Negativity trailed the fateful Black Friday shopping weekend, but now that the 2009 battle for consumer bucks is finished, it seems that holiday retail sales did increase a bit year over year. While retailers may be able to enjoy this small victory, they could still face a long, grim war ahead.
A Wall Street Journal report on MasterCard's
Offering great deals and promotions on some items to lure shoppers, and holding prices steady on most others, apparently worked well for retailers. This was a daring move, though, since earlier surveys showed many shoppers sought deep, deep discounts to convince them to spend.
Even if shoppers did finally succumb to a Santa-esque spirit after a tough year, investors shouldn't forget that overall, consumers could be evolving into more frugal creatures. Given the still-high rates of unemployment and indebtedness nationwide, they may have no choice. That means retailers will likely continue to face hardships, since many of them overexpanded during bubbly economic times. Online retailers such as Amazon.com
Customer traffic has fallen at places that once seemed immune. Starbucks
Even if the sector managed to eke out a win during what is usually the year's most frenzied shopping season, retail's risks are far from over. If anything, the challenge has probably just begun.
What do you think? Will consumers revert to their spendthrift ways in 2010, or pinch their pennies even more tightly? Sound off in the comments box below.
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