Holiday retail: PlayStation 3 yes, miniskirt no
Shoppers might buy consumer electronics this year, but that's about it.
MasterCard Spending Plus, which tracks retail sales, says consumer electronics products are moving off the shelves of stores but women's apparel is not.
A Wall Street Journal analysis of the data for the first two weeks of November shows that purchases of electronics rose 8.1%. Purchases of women's apparel were down 3.3%, and purchases of luxury goods were off 9.2%.
Retail sales were so weak last year that a number of stores were forced to close in early in 2009, and the industry issued tens of thousands of layoffs. It appears that another downsizing is likely.
The trend in the MasterCard survey may favor Best Buy (BBY) and Amazon (AMZN), but it will hurt a number of large stores that sell more general merchandise and do not cater to the consumer electronics trade. Macy’s (M) is probably near the top of this list, along with Nordstrom (JWN).
The difference between the shopping patterns of late 2008 and late 2009 is that retailers may end up being divided into haves and have-nots.
Last year’s results bloodied most firms in the business. This year, the consumer may be willing to spend a few hundred dollars on the hottest video game. But, his purchases may end there. He will buy himself a Microsoft (MSFT) Xbox 360 and get his wife a bunch of flowers. That dress will have to wait until 2010.
Top Stocks blogger Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 24/7 Wall St.
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The solid report comes a month after the retailer closed all of its Canadian operations.
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