December 26th, 2008
11:59 AM ET

Financial Dispatch: Retail's Rough Ride

Gene Bloch
Managing Editor-CNN New York

So how rough was the holiday season for retailers? Pretty rough according to early figures from Mastercard’s SpendingPulse, which estimated sales declined year-over-year by 5.5% to 8%. A good part of that decline in total sales can be blamed on plunging gas prices, but any drop is bad news.

In a separate survey from ShopperTrak, the key Saturday before Christmas, or “Super Saturday” as some call it, saw a scant half percent increase compared to 2007 levels, while foot traffic was down 17%.

Retailers want some help from the federal government next year. The National Retail Federation is seeking a series of sales tax-exempt shopping days added to Obama’s planned economic stimulus package.

Three periods in 2009 during March, July and October would be tax-free, and the federal government would reimburse states for lost tax revenue. The NRF estimates total savings would be $20 billion, and $175 per family.

Gas prices continue to dip – today marks the seventh consecutive decrease. AAA reports regular unleaded gas fell 6-tenths of a cent to $1.64 a gallon, a fresh 4-1/2 year low.

Filed under: Finance • Gene Bloch
soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Annie Kate

    Sales tax holidays would be nice; we have one in Alabama for the weekend just before school starts so everyone can get their school supplies a bit cheaper. I'd like to see a permanent sales tax holiday on food and prescriptions so people with fewer resources can buy just a bit more with what they have.

    December 26, 2008 at 1:59 pm |
  2. earle,florida

    If you can take anything positive from these numbers, people still have the "giving gene", which is the last to go when all else fails! My mind's "analytical-eye" says were along way from the bottom,if there ever is one,...

    December 26, 2008 at 12:25 pm |