Holiday Sales Rebound Strongly

Holiday shoppers exceeded the most optimistic retail forecasts this season, giving the retail sector a 5.5 percent increase in the 50 days before Christmas. In fact, spending jumped to rates higher than even before the recession. Nearly every sector saw a jump, including jewelry (8.4 percent increase), apparel (11.2 percent increase), and luxury goods. Even home furniture saw a small increase after successive declines over the last four years. The retail rebound is attributable to both pent-up demand among middle- and lower-income groups, and a marked increase in luxury sales. With stocks at a two-year high and higher-end incomes less affected by the recession than those on the other end of the spectrum, luxury spending helped drive much of the boost.