Spending should remain strong in the days following the holidays as consumers look for post-holiday sales, and begin using their gift cards.
Consumers continued to spend right up to Christmas. Considering the post-holiday sales over the next few weeks and consumers' eagerness to purchase items they may not have received during the holidays, we expect that spending in the final days of 2004 will continue to rise.
This past week's strong sales numbers prove that Black Friday is not the tall tale sign it used to be as an indicator for holiday spending.
Once again, we see clear evidence of a consumer that is generally resilient and comfortable with their financial position.
Consumers continued to shop right up until the very last minute on Christmas Eve as seen by our spike in sales.
What we saw was a likely bifurcation of retailers this holiday season, with those catering to affluent consumers doing very well. The balance of retailers had to work harder for sales and do more discounting.
The strong spending volume Visa is experiencing, and the trends we've seen leading up to Thanksgiving, bode well for merchants this holiday season.
The key factors helping to buoy spending over the November-December gift-buying period were continued employment gains coupled with a steep reduction in gas prices.