Consumers step back despite strong e-commerce sales growth in 2012
By Jay Keller
The market research firm reported that the increase in e-commerce sales represented the strongest annual growth rate since before the economic downturn led to the recession.
“With e-commerce growth rates consistently in the mid-teens throughout the year, it is clear that the online channel has won over the American consumer and will increasingly be relied upon to deliver on the dimensions of lower price, convenience and selection,” comScore Chairman Gian Fulgoni said in a statement.
Meanwhile, several U.S. retailers reported mixed January sales results to kick off 2013, according the Business Wire Retail Report released on Thursday.
Overall, analysts expect January same-store sales growth to reach 3.5 percent across 18 retailers, down from 4.4 percent growth in January 2012.
Consumer confidence began to improve in January on the heels of uncertainty generated by the fiscal cliff crisis, according to the Surveys of Consumers report.
Higher payroll taxes also resulted in a two-percent reduction in take-home pay that hit lower-income households by limiting disposable income.
“The end of the payroll tax holiday had a significant impact on consumer confidence, especially among lower income households,” Surveys of Consumers Chief Economist Richard Curtin said of the survey.
Consumer spending is expected to continue to slow in 2013, according to the report, but interest spending by higher-income households on homes, vehicles and household durables will still show that consumer confidence to be slowly expanding.
Retailers remain optimistic that the upcoming spring rotation of inventory will boost a mixed bag of January sales.
For the first month of 2013, Macy’s Inc. rose 1.4 percent to $40.04 after reporting January same-store sales rose 11.7 percent.
But Ann Inc. dropped 7.9 percent to $30.20 after forecasting fourth-quarter sales below projections.
Costco said January same-store sales were slightly ahead of Wall Street projections for a 3.9 percent gain to finish at four percent.
Limited Brands Inc. breezed past expectations likely helped by a combination of changes at the La Senza chain and a strong month for Victoria’s Secret.
The upside for strong fourth-quarter e-commerce sales in the U.S. for 2012: 14-percent growth from a year earlier to mark the first $50-billion quarter.