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 â€śominousâ€ť sign.
Why? Because sales of womenâ€™s clothing are down 6 percent.
â€śCBS Evening Newsâ€ť reporter Anthony Mason kicked off the doom and gloom December 17, reporting that â€śsales of womenâ€™s clothing have dropped nearly 6 percent so far this holiday season. Women are usually the seasonâ€™s biggest buyers.â€ť
ABCâ€™s â€śGood Morning Americaâ€ť started the next morningâ€™s show with a pessimistic headline: â€śBlue Christmas for Retailers? Sales figures show holiday slump.â€ť
Good morning! Christmas is a failure!
â€śItâ€™s a retailerâ€™s nightmare before Christmas,â€ť reporter Bianna Golodryga mourned. â€śAfter a promising start to the holiday shopping season, harsh weather and even harsher economic news has kept many consumers at home.â€ť 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 theyâ€™re shopping less? The mall, of course! Mason did his man-on-the-street interviews in crowded stores, too.
Over on NBC, the â€śTodayâ€ť showâ€™s Carl Quintanilla also headed to the mall for a live standup December 18. He told viewers thereâ€™s a â€śnagging feeling â€¦ the seasonâ€™s not going to go as well as some hoped.â€ť
Like Mason on CBS and Golodryga on ABC, Quintanilla pointed to the 6-percent drop in womenâ€™s clothing sales over last year as a sign of a holiday sales slump.
Mason called the womenâ€™s apparel figure an â€śominous sign.â€ť Golodryga called it â€śone of this yearâ€™s more worrisome trendsâ€ť and Quintanilla insisted it was â€śa big deal because women tend to do most of the holiday shopping.â€ť (But do they shop only for womenâ€™s apparel?)
None of that analysis came from the company releasing the sales figures. The actual news release from Mastercard wasnâ€™t nearly as gloomy as the networks made it out to be. It declared: â€śMost Industry Segments Post Modest Increase over Same Period 2006.â€ť
Special apparel was up 0.5 percent. Menâ€™s apparel was up 4.5 percent. Electronics were up 5.8 percent. Luxury goods were up 10.8 percent. And Mastercard declared â€śextraordinary growthâ€ť for online sales, up 29.8 percent over the first 20 days of the season. Only womenâ€™s apparel and â€śspecialty retailersâ€ť (-1.1 percent) were down.
Mastercard Vice President of Research and Analysis Michael McNamara said the figures werenâ€™t surprising. â€śBlack Fridayâ€™s 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€ť
To her credit, Golodryga noted at the end of the segment that the decrease in womenâ€™s apparel sales â€śisnâ€™t necessarily an economic barometer. People are saying thatâ€™s also because styles havenâ€™t been that great this year and women just donâ€™t like what they see.â€ť Her segment also included a comment from Americaâ€™s Research Group founder Britt Beemer, who noted that â€śwomenâ€™s apparel has been a disaster all year.â€ť
Online sales, however, werenâ€™t broken down by category â€“ so perhaps women bought clothes online this year.