Holiday Retail Sales, Freddie-Mac Delinquencies

Holiday retail sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas increased 5.5 percent this year. Freddie Mac reported that its single-family serious delinquency rate was unchanged in November month over month.

Holiday retail sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas—except for car sales— increased 5.5 percent this year compared to the same period last year, according to MasterCard’s SpendingPulse report, which was released on Friday. The increase is in line with the company’s forecasts for sales, and reflects one additional shopping day this year compared with 2013.

Based on initial analysis, the jewelry and women’s apparel sectors performed stronger than other categories. Consumers’ reaction to positive economic indicators was a key player in driving overall activity during the holiday shopping season, the company also posited.

“This holiday season was a social one,” Sarah Quinlan, senior vice president at MasterCard Advisors, noted in a statement. “While certain retail categories saw steady performance from prior months, the focus on creating experiences stayed at the top of many lists. From dining out to planning trips to memorable pieces of jewelry, we saw increases in those categories that will drive future stories beyond just a package exchanged with a friend or family member.”

Separately, Channel Advisors, which tracks online sales, reported that pre-holiday online sales were up 14.1 percent compared with the same period in 2013 (the periods for comparison are Nov. 27 to Dec. 21 this year, and Nov. 28 to Dec. 22 last year). The first week of December was particularly strong, with sales up 14.8 percent year over year.

Freddie-Mac Delinquencies Unchanged in November

Freddie Mac reported last week that its single-family serious delinquency rate was unchanged in November, coming in at 1.91 percent. The rate is down from 2.43 percent in November 2013, and the October and November 2014 rates happen to be the lowest ones since December 2008; the rate’s most recent peak was in February 2010, coming at 4.2 percent.

The GSE defines serious delinquency as mortgage loans that are “three monthly payments or more past due or in foreclosure.” Fannie Mae will report its Single-Family Serious Delinquency rate for November this week.

Wall Street moved positively during light trading on Friday, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average up 23.5 points, or 0.13 percent. The S&P 500 gained 0.33 percent and the Nasdaq advanced 0.7 percent.