U.S. retailers saw their best holiday season in nearly ten years, thanks to a healthier economy, cheap fuel, and starting things early, according to the holiday report by analytics firm ShopperTrak.
The holiday shopping period of November plus December saw 4.6% growth over last year, beating ShopperTrak’s prediction of 3.8%.
That was the best growth in years: In 2005 retailers saw holiday sales jump 5.2% from the previous year, according to ShopperTrak. Meanwhile analytics firm First Data found that November sales grew 2.2%; they declined last year by 1.3%. December sales grew 2.9% this year over last, while last year they grew just 1%.
Turns out that diluting the specialness of Black Friday and spreading the holiday retail fuss over more days paid off this year, at least according to ShopperTrak. While the research firm says that Black Friday and the following Saturday remain the biggest shopping days, consumers started things early and kept shopping nearly till Christmas. That helped boost overall sales, the firm said.
“The outcome punctuates the declining importance of a single day within the season,” ShopperTrak wrote in its report. “This 10-year trend speaks to retailers’ success in elongating the shopping season, as well as the consumers’ increased willingness to shop early.”
The research also found that cheaper gas and some confidence related to improving economic news contributed to the healthier retail season this year.