Discounts, promotions spur sales in U.S. holiday season
By Siddharth Cavale
(Reuters) - Sales during the 2013 U.S. holiday season grew from a year earlier as deep discounting and increased promotions encouraged consumers to buy more.
Holiday sales between November 1 and December 24 rose 2.3 percent, compared with 0.7 percent a year earlier, according to data published in the MasterCard Advisors' SpendingPulse report.
This sales growth was the highest in three years.
"It was actually a Merry Christmas for retailers," Sarah Quinlan, senior vice president at MasterCard Advisors, told Reuters, adding that jewelry was the best-performing category.
SpendingPulse tracks customer spending on apparel, electronics, jewelry, luxury and home furniture & furnishings categories during the holiday season.
Shares of J.C. Penney Inc closed up 2.5 percent, while Wal-Mart Stores Inc finished 0.5 percent higher and Target Corp rose 1.2 percent.
Analysts have called the 2013 holiday season the most competitive since the recession in 2008, as many Americans battle stagnant wages, higher taxes and the impact from the government shutdown.
Retailers have slashed prices and used other promotions to lure customers in a season that typically generates 30 percent of sales and 40 percent of profits. Continued...