Consumer Confidence Rises Sharply; Mall Jewelry Sales Up Slightly

December 28, 2001

Consumer Confidence Rises Sharply; Mall Jewelry Sales Up Slightly

It wasn't enough to rescue the season dramatically, but a sharp rise in consumer confidence in December may have helped mall jewelry sales rise 0.6% from Thanksgiving through Christmas, compared to the year before, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers, New York City.

Overall mall sales were up 2.1%, which jibed with yesterday's report from check acceptance firm TeleCheck Services, which said its data showed holiday same-store sales in the U.S. rose by 2.2% in the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas over last year's totals.

Music, video and home entertainment sales enjoyed the greatest increases in sales at malls – 10.9%. These products also helped boost sales at major discount retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores, Target Corp., Best Buy Co. and Circuit City Stores. Wal-Mart reported its sales rose between 7-9% from Thanksgiving to Christmas, compared to last year.

As predicted by analysts, apparel-heavy retailers performed the worst, with Federated Dept. Stores, parent of Macy's and Bloomingdales, expecting a sales drop of 11-14% in December among stores open at least a year.

Online sales were healthy, with Yahoo reporting shopping sales made through its site rose 86%, reported The New York Times. The newspaper pointed out, however, the numbers were influenced by new merchants to Yahoo's site this year, such as Wal-Mart and Ann Taylor., a price search engine, saw traffic double and revenues soar compared to last year, said NYT.

The Consumer Confidence Index of the Conference Board rose to 93.7 in December, from a 84.9 in November, following three months of decline. "The deterioration in current economic conditions appears to be reaching a plateau, led by a stabilizing employment scenario," said Lynn Franco, director of the Conference Board's research center. The increase, she said, suggests the worst of the downturn is over.

– by Peggy Jo Donahue

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