The 2015 Holiday Retail Report

Still No Urge to Splurge

illustration of lady walking by a toy store

After more than two years of mostly uninspired sales growth and mediocre operating results, 2015 was supposed to be the year it finally all came together for the U.S. retail sector. This wasn’t just wishful thinking; there was good reason to be optimistic going into the year. The 2014 holiday season surpassed modest expectations, and retail sales had some momentum as we entered 2015.

Moreover, energy prices had plummeted, job creation was decidedly on the upswing and the housing market continued its recovery — all factors that should spur more robust consumer spending. (The financial windfall from lower energy prices alone should save consumers nearly $100 billion in 2015, much of which assumedly would be spent.) But it hasn’t turned out that way so far. Today’s retail spending environment still lacks vigor. More puzzling, many of these broad economic trends have continued along their favorable trajectories as expected but stronger consumer spending has not followed with the exception of autos.

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