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Economy Shows Slowed Growth Leading into Black Friday

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today Nov 25, 2010
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The tides may have turned since the depths of the Great Recession, but shopping hasn’t rebounded back entirely. Those are among the results of an analysis of year-over-year spending data from Mint.com, a leading online personal finance service from Intuit Inc.



“People seem to be tightening their belts and saving up for holiday shopping by being more prudent in the months leading into the season”. “Last year, the data we tracked showed that most retailers had climbed out of the hole the 2008 recession had created in their preholiday sales,” said Stew Langille, director of marketing for Intuit Personal Finance Group. “This year, it seems clear that while there was a distinct rebound, growth has decelerated and we haven’t returned to prerecession spending. We’ve hit a new normal and it will be interesting to see what the holiday season brings.”

Mint.com examined the same group of retailers as it did last year, which are representative of discretionary shopping categories, to see how American spending is changing. The group was selected from among more than 13,000 national retailers. All were top performers in the third quarter 2009, based on average monthly spend per user. This year’s data looks at Q1-Q3 2010, vs. where each company stood at this time last year, and includes:

* Aeropostale – The clothing retailer grew 10 percent last year from its 2008 low, and grew again in 2010, up an additional 6.8 percent.
* Best Buy – The electronics retailer recovered last year from a decline of 7 percent during the 2008 recession to show 1 percent growth. This year, the company is up an additional 4.1 percent.
* Fry’s – Fry’s trailed competitor Best Buy dramatically in its recovery last year, but this year shows a 6.9 percent increase.
* J.Crew – The clothing retailer showed 4 percent year-over-year growth in 2009, and looks strong heading into the holidays with a 9.2 percent increase in spending.
* Sears – The department store’s sales last year showed 8 percent year-over-year growth, after falling off 10 percent at its recession low. This year the company posts growth again, with a 6.4 percent increase.
* Target – One of the only retailers that remained down in 2009, reporting a 4 percent year-over-year decline, Target now posts 4.7 percent growth over last year.

Battening Down the Hatches

Each retailer saw most aggressive growth in the first half of 2010, with a universal drop in the third quarter as shoppers prepared for the onslaught of holiday shopping.

“People seem to be tightening their belts and saving up for holiday shopping by being more prudent in the months leading into the season,” said Langille. “Though some of the retailers saw double-digit growth in the first half of this year, spending has ratcheted back across the board, in some cases dipping below where it stood at this time last year. We’ll check back after Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales to see if this prediction pans out.”

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