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Seasonal Retail May Blossom – But Slowly

Thursday, 14 Dec 2006 | 12:24 PM ET

Eleven shopping days, and counting. Holiday sales got off to a rip-roaring start on Black Friday, then seemed to lose steam. Will retailers end December in the black?

Marshall Cohen, chief retail analyst at market-research firm The NPD Group, told “Morning Call” that holiday profits may be forthcoming, but it will take a while before retailers know they are in the black. One reason he notes: Gift cards, whose sales are expected to hit $30 billion this year.

Consumer Pulse Check
November retail data looked strong, and Marshal Cohen, NPD Group Chief Retail Analyst, discusses whether December will be as positive with CNBC's Liz Claman.

NPD found that 51% of people surveyed in 2006 like the idea of the freedom-of-choice cards, versus 39% in 2005. The result: Cohen told CNBC’s Liz Claman to expect stores to be open on Christmas Day, and sales still building slowly but surely through January. The firms likely to benefit most -- electronics purveyors like Circuit City and Best Buy.

The first week of this month saw shopping-mall traffic counts dwindle from the “early surge” of November, Cohen notes. And some of that surge won’t be repeated, the analyst says, as it consisted of one-time-only holiday-decoration buys at Lowe’s and Home Depot.

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