Weak Holiday Sales Growth Expected; Jewelry Sells for Wal-Mart, J.C. Penney


December 27, 2002

Weak Holiday Sales Growth Expected; Jewelry Sells for Wal-Mart, J.C. Penney

Analysts predict December retail sales figures will be lower – 1.5% to 3.5% – than many retailers forecast. Wal-Mart Stores, the nation's largest retailer, announced lowered sales growth predictions for December to 2%-3% gains on Dec. 26, rather than the 3% to 5% gains it had predicted. J.C. Penney Co., however, said it will meet its expected 1% to 3% sales growth for the holiday period. Significantly, both stores said that jewelry sales were among their strongest categories.

Post-Christmas sales could brighten the December retail sales picture somewhat, say analysts. Some stores count the first few days of January in their December sales figures. Many consumers who received gift certificates will cash them in over the next week and those buyers often purchase additional items. The period after Christmas can produce up to 10% of all holiday sales, an analyst told The New York Times. Also, America's Research Group, Charleston, SC, found 15% of shoppers hadn't finished their Christmas purchases by Christmas Day. Shoppers have been groomed to look for bargains, however, and many say they plan to hold out until prices go even lower than the day after Christmas, according to news reports.






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