The strong economy does not appear to be enough to boost holiday sales this year. According to TeleCheck Services, the worlds leading check acceptance company, holiday shopping is up only 0.7 percent over the same period last year.
TeleChecks report covers the first 24 days of the holiday shopping period (November 27 through December 20), and is based on a same-store comparison of the dollar volume of authorized checks written by consumers at more than 27,000 of TeleChecks 200,000 subscribing locations.
Two of the major factors associated with the diversion of consumer attention and interest from shopping this year are the impeachment vote with the resultant fall-out in Washington, and the volatile Iraqi situation. Even though promotions and deep discounts spurred sales earlier in the season, current total dollar volume is reduced from expected levels. The last week of the peak shopping period may bring levels up.
Some representative regional statistics comparing this year to the 1997 holiday shopping season to date follow:
SOUTHEASTERN REGION SOUTHWESTERN REGION
Florida +1.5% Texas +1.3%
Louisiana +3.2% Missouri +3.6%
Georgia +2.9% Oklahoma +1.0%
The Carolinas +0.7%
WESTERN REGION NORTHEASTERN REGION
Arizona -0.1% Massachusetts -4.9%
California -5.5% New York +1.7%
MIDWESTERN REGION MID-ATLANTIC REGION
Illinois +3.2% Wash., DC -2.1%
Michigan +2.9% Pennsylvania +0.6%
Minnesota +2.6% New Jersey -2.1%
Wisconsin +3.3% Virginia +1.5%
Ohio +2.6% Maryland +1.7%
The TeleCheck retail sales figures can be downloaded from their web site at www.telecheck.com.