AmEx Business Insights report: Q4 spend increases across board

New York City -- A report released Thursday by American Express Business Insights said that spending in the fourth quarter was up across the board, but the retail sector spend growth was more subdued despite the holiday shopping season.

According to the Q4 2010 Business Insights Spend Sights report, which evaluated actual, aggregated spending data between Sep. 1 and Dec. 31, 2010 in categories such as luxury retail, dining and entertainment, and travel, department stores appeared to receive the lion’s share of shopping activity, posting a 13% increase in spend over the year prior. Surprisingly, overall consumer spending on jewelry decreased by 2%, despite its longstanding popularity on holiday gift lists.

In another unexpected trend, consumers spent 5% less on home furnishings and furniture, which had been strong during the housing downturn.

“On the individual consumer front, spending increases were more subdued in general, despite the holiday season, but bright spots in specific sectors and regions point to a cautiously optimistic economic recovery,” said Ed Jay, senior VP at American Express Business Insights.