Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Retailers Push through Holiday Lull

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Retailers Push through Holiday Lull

Article excerpt

The traditional post-holiday retail assessment began this week with encouraging signs that consumers felt better about spending as gasoline prices fell and the job market improved.

Some teen clothing retailers, including South Side-based American Eagle Outfitters, on Thursday raised earnings projections for the fourth quarter, although improvements seemed driven more by management's push to better plan promotions and inventory than by a surge in demand for jeans.

Shoppers didn't spread the goodwill evenly and the casualties have begun to pile up.

Teen retailer Wet Seal announced its closing hundreds of stores while J.C. Penney identified 40 stores - none in the Pittsburgh area - that it has decided not to keep open going forward. Macy's on Thursday said 14 stores out of its 790-store total will be closing, again none in the Pittsburgh area.

"Post Thanksgiving weekend, we believe traffic hit a lull, but then improved nicely in the week before Christmas, to finish up with a good holiday season overall," wrote Daniel Binder, an analyst with Jefferies in a report to investors.

Shopping on a computer overall rose 13.9 percent in November and December over the same period a year ago, according to the IBM Digital Analytics Benchmark.

Traffic from mobile devices accounted for 45 percent of all online traffic, the IBM data showed, but actual sales from tablets and smartphones only represented 22.6 percent of all online sales.

ComScore, a digital tracking firm in Reston, Va., said online holiday sales from desktop computers hit $53.3 billion, up from $46.5 billion a year earlier. There were 15 different days when people spent more than $1 billion through their PCs.

All those purchases had to be delivered, which produced work for companies like FedEx and UPS, as well as the U.S. Postal Service. …

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