Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Taking the Santa Out of Christmas

Several articles talking about the current Christmas season.

So far this year's holiday retail sales are shaping up to be the weakest since the early 1990s as consumers are cutting back in the face of a worldwide economic slowdown.

Since Black Friday kicked off the critical holiday shopping season on November 28, sales at specialty apparel retailers are down 22.9 percent from a year earlier through December 6, according to SpendingPulse, the retail data service of MasterCard Inc's MasterCard Advisors unit.

That is slightly worse than the 19.5 percent decline seen in the period that began November 1, SpendingPulse said.

Of course spending on luxury goods is on the way out:

Double-digit declines in holiday spending continued in the first week of December in key categories, with luxury posting a startling 34.5% drop from year-earlier levels, according to new numbers from MasterCard Inc.'s SpendingPulse unit.

Is consumer tastes really changing? Not necessarily. Instead of living without, individuals turn to the other side of the law

According to the nationwide study, 84% of retailers, including department stores, specialty apparel companies, electronic stores and drugstores, have seen an increase in theft and amateur shoplifting over the last three months. More than 75% of stores report a rise in financial fraud, and 80% cite intensified organized retail crime. RILA would not disclose the names of stores that have seen increases in crime.

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