A macroeconomic indicator, SpendingPulse reports on national retail and services sales and is based on aggregate sales activity in the MasterCard payments network, coupled with survey-based estimates for certain other payment forms, such as cash and check.  MasterCard SpendingPulse does not represent MasterCard financial performance.  SpendingPulse is provided by MasterCard Advisors, the professional services arm of MasterCard Worldwide.

Luxury, Apparel, and e-Commerce Remain Strong While Electronics Stores Lose Ground

Purchase, N.Y. May 4, 2011 – MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse, a macroeconomic report tracking national retail and services sales, today provided summary results for performance of specific U.S. retail industries in April 2011. Luxury, e-Commerce and Apparel enjoyed strong growth, and the Restaurant category surpassed last month’s gains.  That said, Electronics sales dipped back into negative territory. And while consumer spending in the hotel category continues to see robust year-over-year gains, airline spending retreated to under a 1% gain after several months of robust year-over-year growth.

Michael McNamara, Vice President, Research and Analysis for MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse, notes, “Overall, retail sectors were mixed this month.  Several sectors showed continued year-over-year growth, while others were flat or even negative.  The shift in the Easter holiday between this year and last may have helped some of the comparisons, especially for Apparel, Groceries, Flowers, and Drug Stores.  For those sectors, it might be more instructive to look at March and April combined.  On the other hand, unusually stormy weather in the South and Midwest may have cut down on shopping trips, and may have worked against particular sectors such as Hardware.”

Mr. McNamara took note of the continued rise in gasoline prices.  “Our experience over the past several years suggests that this can have a variety of repercussions for retail.  First, we can expect consumers to make fewer shopping trips, especially on weekends, and this may contribute to an ever stronger growth for e-Commerce.  Fewer miles driven also reduces demand for Auto Parts and Services.  Finally, Casual Dining Restaurants can be negatively impacted.”

Here are details of some specific sectors for April 2011:

Up a notable 10.4% in April, Total U.S. Apparel sales recorded their ninth consecutive year‐over‐year gain.  Some of this performance can be attributed to this year’s Easter pre‐holiday sales happening throughout April, in contrast to last year, when they took place almost entirely during March.  All of Apparel’s sub-sectors recorded year-over‐year sales growth in April.    Family apparel came in at 10.6%, posting the 11th straight positive year‐over‐year growth rate.  Menswear weighed in at 12.4%, showing 6 straight months of positive growth. Women’s wear, up 7.4%, posted its 7th straight month of growth and the sub-category’s highest year-over‐year growth rate since May 2007.  At 6.3%, Footwear also made a comeback into positive territory, following a brief dip in March.

Showing its highest single month of year-over-year growth since July 2007, and the highest dollar levels spent for any April in SpendingPulse history, U.S. e-Commerce was up 19.2%, the category’s 6th straight month of double-digit growth and 21st straight month in positive territory.  Many eCommerce sectors posted impressive growth with Footwear topping 20% and Women’s wear continuing to surge, passing the 15% mark for the second straight month.   Electronics online sales, at 9.1% posted their 8th straight month in positive territory.

For the 3rd time in the last four months Electronics and Appliances registered a decline, down 1.8% year-over-year. This is the largest March‐to‐April sales decrease since April 2006.

In its 7th month of year-over-year gains, the SpendingPulse Luxury Index (excluding Jewelry) was up 9.6%, the sector’s largest gain since May 2010. The SpendingPulse Luxury category measures luxury sales at high-end restaurants, food stores, department stores and general apparel categories.

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