Post-Sandy retail spending boost slowed down, report shows

PURCHASE, N.Y. — A slowdown in retail spending happened after a boost that followed Hurricane Sandy, according to a new report by a division of MasterCard.

MasterCard Advisors released its SpendingPulse report, finding that a three-week recovery in retail spending after Sandy began to slow during the week that ended Dec. 8, while some sectors, like specialty apparel, slipped into negative growth.

"Given the season's modest start, the numbers we're seeing so far are highlighting the importance of the last two weeks of the season," MasterCard SpendingPulse global solutions leader Michael McNamara said. "After a brief recovery in growth rates after Sandy, holiday sector sales growth has again subsided."

McNamara added that last year's Super Saturday fell on Christmas Eve, pressuring retail sales that came out to $12 billion, but sales should be more than $18 billion this year and "could rival Black Friday sales."

At the same time, this year's Black Friday saw a 4.9% decline in retail spending, to $18.9 billion, though the four days of Thanksgiving weekend saw sales of $50.2 billion, a 2.9% increase over last year's $48.8 billion. The last 10 days before Christmas last year saw $147 billion in retail sales, and the report found that retailers looking for a positive season this year will find the 10-day period even more important due to weather and calendar shifts.