Most major media outlets herald a report showing that holiday sales were up this year. As noted by the Associated Press: "Holiday shoppers spent a little more this season, according to data released Monday, giving merchants some reason for cheer. Retail sales rose 3.6% from Nov. 1 through Dec. 24, compared with a 3.2% drop in the year-ago period."
Happy days are here again! Or are they?
Below are a few significant caveats to the Associated Press story:
1)These reports are estimates and not hard data from the Commerce Department and retailers (NPR). The government will report these real numbers concerning holiday sales in mid-January.
2)As noted by SpendingPulse, (which calculated the widely-reported holiday sale estimates):”Tempering these (holiday sale) results, however, is the fact that there was an extra day this year over last year’s holiday season. Adjusting for this could decrease the season’s year over-year-growth statistics by anywhere from 2% to 4%.”
3)SpendingPulse (an affiliate of Master Card) does not provide a comprehensive analysis of retail sales. Data included in its analysis are for sales in the electronics, specialty (apparel), and Ecommerce and luxury sectors of the retail economy.
4)Ecommerce (which does not help local merchants or most state revenues) was the big winner this year, with seasonal sales up 15.5% during the period.
5)Kamalesh Rao, director of economic research at Spending Pulse, cautioned that a consumer return was tentative and far below 2007 levelNew York Times.
6)Reuters reported that “an unprecedented 22 percent of U.S. consumers said they did not finish their Christmas shopping this year."This is the lowest number of consumers finishing shopping in all my 26 years of tracking retail sales during the holiday season," Beemer said. (Mr. Beemer is the founder of the consumer research and marketing firm—America's Research Group.)
Based upon these caveats, I cannot conclude that the 2009 Holiday Sales provided much holiday cheer to American merchants.
NEW YORK, Dec 29 (Reuters) - GMAC Financial Services is close to getting about $3.5 billion in added aid from the U.S. government, on top of the $12.5 billion already received since December 2008, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The announcement is expected within days and will coincide with GMAC taking additional steps to absorb losses related to its mortgage operations, the Journal reported, citing people familiar with the situation
Statisticians acknowledge that the collection process overstates both GDP and productivity. Because investors, companies and the government all rely on such statistics, flawed data could result in poor investment and business decisions.
Susan Houseman, senior economist at the W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, was a participant in a recent conference on the problem. "We don't have the data-collection structure to capture what's happening in a real-time way, or what's being traded and how it's affecting workers.
Washington Post Staff Writer Tuesday, December 22, 2009
The recession's jobless toll is draining unemployment-compensation funds so fast that according to federal projections, 40 state programs will go broke within two years and need $90 billion in loans to keep issuing the benefit checks.
Currently, 25 states have run out of unemployment money and have borrowed $24 billion from the federal government to cover the gaps. By 2011, according to Department of Labor estimates, 40 state funds will have been emptied by the jobless tsunami.
(This bill provides $50 billion to public works projects and $50 billion for cash-strapped state and local governments.)
2847 RECORDED VOTE 16-Dec-2009 7:04 PM QUESTION: On Concurring in Senate Amendment with an Amendment BILL TITLE: Making Appropriations for the Departments of Commerce and Justice, and Science, and Related Agencies for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2010, and for other purposes
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