Record Super Saturday Sales Signal a Consumer Spending Revival

Shopping and Spending on the rebound
Shopping and Spending on the rebound

If you thought holiday shoppers were going to take a breather after Black Friday, you thought wrong.

Following a record Black Friday on Nov. 24, retail sales hit new heights on Super Saturday, Dec. 17 -- the penultimate shopping Saturday before Christmas and a day when retailers trot out themed sales promotions. It's a sign that many consumers have rebounded from the recession and unleashed pent-up buying demand, according to a new report from Customer Growth Partners, the retail and consumer products market research and consultancy firm.

Super Saturday pulled in approximately $26 billion in retail sales, breaking the record of $25 billion set in 2007, according to CGP, which tracked business at the nation's 35 biggest retailers.

Those Americans who are employed have "refinanced their homes and cut down on credit card debt, so many consumers are a lot healthier than they were a few years ago," Craig Johnson, CEO of CGP, tells DailyFinance.

And now they're ready to part with some coin. "There's a lot of pent-up demand. People stopped spending during the recession whether they had a job or didn't have a job."

Johnson noted the Federal Reserve's household debt service ratio -- which measures how much disposable income goes to paying down debt -- is at 11%, its lowest level since 1994, down from its peak of 14.1% in the fourth quarter of 2007.

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But beyond the seemingly improved financial health of American shoppers, retailers are finally giving them a reason to buy, he says. "For the first time in years -- since well before the recession -- there's some newness and excitement in the stores," particularly in apparel and consumer electronics.

Some hits this year with shoppers include Macy's (M) exclusive clothing line from iconic designer Karl Lagerfeld, and Versace's apparel collection for H&M. And in consumer electronics, shoppers were enticed by new e-readers, tablet computers like Amazon's (AMZN) Kindle Fire, and smartphones.

CPG predicts that consumers might even spend more on Black Monday -- the day after Christmas -- than they did on Super Saturday, with more shoppers "self-gifting" this holiday season.

Target (TGT), for one, is wooing shoppers with a Black Friday-style sale on Dec. 26. The retailer will offer discounts of up to 50% off on popular women's and kids' clothing, as well as home and holiday decor. Doors will open at Target stores at 7 a.m. on Monday.


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