Networks: Low Women's Clothing Sales Foreshadow 'Nightmare'
Before you start getting some crazy idea about the holiday shopping season being on a positive track, tune into the network news for a reminder that the sales figures present an âominousâ sign.
Why? Because sales of womenâs clothing are down 6 percent.
âCBS Evening Newsâ reporter Anthony Mason kicked off the doom and gloom December 17, reporting that âsales of womenâs clothing have dropped nearly 6 percent so far this holiday season. Women are usually the seasonâs biggest buyers.â
ABCâs âGood Morning Americaâ started the next morningâs show with a pessimistic headline: âBlue Christmas for Retailers? Sales figures show holiday slump.â
Good morning! Christmas is a failure!
âItâs a retailerâs nightmare before Christmas,â reporter Bianna Golodryga mourned. âAfter a promising start to the holiday shopping season, harsh weather and even harsher economic news has kept many consumers at home.â Ironically, it was less than a month ago that the media blamed warm weather for expected lackluster sales â which turned out to be higher than predicted anyway.
So where did ABC go to ask consumers why theyâre shopping less? The mall, of course! Mason did his man-on-the-street interviews in crowded stores, too.
Over on NBC, the âTodayâ showâs Carl Quintanilla also headed to the mall for a live standup December 18. He told viewers thereâs a ânagging feeling âŚ the seasonâs not going to go as well as some hoped.â
Like Mason on CBS and Golodryga on ABC, Quintanilla pointed to the 6-percent drop in womenâs clothing sales over last year as a sign of a holiday sales slump.
Mason called the womenâs apparel figure an âominous sign.â Golodryga called it âone of this yearâs more worrisome trendsâ and Quintanilla insisted it was âa big deal because women tend to do most of the holiday shopping.â (But do they shop only for womenâs apparel?)
None of that analysis came from the company releasing the sales figures. The actual news release from Mastercard wasnât nearly as gloomy as the networks made it out to be. It declared: âMost Industry Segments Post Modest Increase over Same Period 2006.â
Special apparel was up 0.5 percent. Menâs apparel was up 4.5 percent. Electronics were up 5.8 percent. Luxury goods were up 10.8 percent. And Mastercard declared âextraordinary growthâ for online sales, up 29.8 percent over the first 20 days of the season. Only womenâs apparel and âspecialty retailersâ (-1.1 percent) were down.
Mastercard Vice President of Research and Analysis Michael McNamara said the figures werenât surprising. âBlack Fridayâs sales came in so strong that the pace was clearly not sustainable. The sectors have settled into some clear winners as well as some under performers.â
To her credit, Golodryga noted at the end of the segment that the decrease in womenâs apparel sales âisnât necessarily an economic barometer. People are saying thatâs also because styles havenât been that great this year and women just donât like what they see.â Her segment also included a comment from Americaâs Research Group founder Britt Beemer, who noted that âwomenâs apparel has been a disaster all year.â
Online sales, however, werenât broken down by category â so perhaps women bought clothes online this year.