Rush Pushes Holiday Sales Up

December 30, 2003
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LANSING — Now that Christmas presents have been purchased, and in some cases returned, the Michigan Retailers Association has a better idea of how this year’s holiday shopping season turned out.

The association reported that sales via credit and debit cards increased 13.01 percent through Christmas Eve, based on same-store credit and debit card sales for the 27 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year and the 26 days last year.

“Sales came on strong in the last-minute rush, plus there was an additional day this season,” said Larry Meyer, MRA chairman and CEO. “Overall, it appears to be a good season for retailers, as good or better than predicted.”

Increased consumer use of credit and debit cards over cash and checks accounts for a portion of the overall increase, perhaps as much as 4 percent, Meyer added.

With three days to go before Christmas, sales via credit cards and debit cards were up 5.89 percent for the season, the low point after a fast start the weekend after Thanksgiving. The cumulative increase jumped to 8.15 percent on Tuesday and to 13.01 on Wednesday.

Meyer cautioned, however, that the full season stretched to the end of December. Post-Christmas sales appear to be running at a less robust clip. Cumulative sales were up to 10.08 percent for the 30-day period from Thanksgiving through this past Saturday.

Retailers went into the season predicting a 5 percent increase for the period, according to the Michigan Retail Index, a joint project of MRA and the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. That forecast is based on a survey of MRA members.           

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