Takeaway: This reading is simply bad. Numbers are still growing, which is good, but the growth rate isn't even in the same ball park as what we saw over the past two years. Our sense -- which unfortunately we cannot yet quantify -- is that this shows a dramatic shift to online shopping both pre and post holiday. Yes, we've been shopping online for years. But we think that online as a percent of total went parabolic this year.
When we look at the 2013 holiday season in retrospect, it will be known as the point in time when bricks & mortar really started to take it on the chin.
What this also goes to show is that so many 'sales monitoring' data sources that the Street has relied upon for years are losing relevance -- fast.
(Editor's Note: This is a complimentary research excerpt from Retail Sector Head Brian McGough.)