MasterCard Advisors: Hurricane Sandy takes a bite out of early November sales

Purchase, N.Y. -- Spending in most of the key holiday categories, for the first two weeks of the retail month of November was down on a year-over-year basis, according to a SpendingPulse report released by MasterCard Advisors, the professional services arm of MasterCard. Apparel and luxury (excluding jewelry) were particularly hard hit, both showing year-over-year declines in the high 7% range.

Jewelry, a category that has recently shown signs of making a comeback, was up mildly, and ecommerce gained at a modest clip. The dip in early November runs contrary to both September and October, when SpendingPulse recorded that spending was up in nine of 11 categories for both months.

“Our research shows that Sandy clearly depressed the start to the early holiday season with the storm significantly impacting the year-over-year growth rates in key holiday categories over the first week of November. By the end of the second week, there were signs of a bounce back in several categories,” said Michael McNamara, Global Solutions Leader, MasterCard SpendingPulse.

For the pre-season period Oct. 28 through Nov.10, women’s apparel sales were down 6.3% against the same period last year. For the week that included Sandy, Women’s Apparel sales were down over 9% This number is a deceleration from October’s 5.8% year over year gain.

In the electronics category for the period through Nov. 10, sales fell 3.4% reversing October’s 2.4% increase.

“Black Friday is traditionally the largest day of the year for electronics with sales well over $1 billion. This “season in a day” can be almost twice as large as the next busiest day of the year which typically occurs later in December,” noted McNamara.