Every retailer is aware of the fact that January is traditionally the slowest month of the year. It comes on the heels of the six week marathon that kicks off on Black Friday and runs through New Year's Eve where everyone is looking for holiday gifts, returning poor choices or using gift cards: Consumers are burnt out and the wallets need to take a rest.
While low sales are expected for January, the numbers reported by the Wall Street Journal and released by the Commerce Department show spending was lower than expected. According to the article, retailers in every major vertical were affected by the sudden spending freeze, and online shopping was no different.
When compared to December, retail sales dropped a seasonally adjusted 0.4 percent in January. To make matters worse, revised figures show that December also experienced a drop, making it only the fourth time since the recession that consecutive months have experienced a decline.
The biggest unforeseen factor over the last month has been the weather. Not only did several snow and ice storms keep shoppers away from the mall, but record cold temperatures have more consumers shelling out the money to keep their homes heated.
There is some concern that this could undo the economic growth that was experienced during the second half of 2013.
"People that were very excited at the end of last year that we were ready to break out to a whole new level are probably rethinking that thesis," MFR Inc. economist Joshua Shapiro told the news source.
Only time will tell if the pendulum will swing back into the positive. However, this is still a down time that organizations can take advantage of by upgrading systems like POS software or credit card processing equipment.