The Astrology of Christmas Myths: Holiday Sales Will Save Us

Super Santa ClausEvery year we hear the same thing. Holiday sales are up 3.5 or 3.8 or 4.1 percent. Good for the economy yes? Not so fast.

For someone like me who spent a good deal of her day job career crunching numbers, this 3% to 4 % stuff smells suspiciously like slicing and dicing the numbers to fit media spin. It seems like growth, but it is massaging the numbers against one variable or another to make it look like growth. Maybe they are comparing quarterly sales, or a sales projection, but one thing they are not doing is comparing apples to apples.

A Little History Please

Ritholtz.com’s post on this subject pointed the way to revealing numbers.
2007: (pre-recession) Holiday sales: $516 billion
Holiday sales as percentage of annual retail sales: 19.5% Inflation Rate 2.85%
2008: Holiday sales: $495.5 billion
Holiday sales as percentage of annual retail sales: 18.6% Inflation Rate 3.8%
2009: Holiday sales: $504.8 billion
Holiday sales as percentage of annual retail sales: 19.4% Inflation Rate -.34% Continue reading