DAVID GREENE, HOST:
OK, so the final numbers are not in yet, but it looks like the Christmas shopping season was just OK. There were some bright spots, particularly in online sales.
NPR's Ina Jaffe reports.
INA JAFFE, BYLINE: The frenzy of Black Friday calmed down considerably over the course of the Christmas shopping season. Major chains began offering big discounts as the holiday approached and that'll cut into profits.
Before the Christmas shopping season began, some analysts were predicting sales would increase as much as 5 percent over last year. Now, it looks like it'll probably be about half of that.
That's not good news for retailers, who can make 30 to 40 percent of their annual profit during the Christmas season. Still, some chains appear to have done well, including Macy's, Wal-Mart, Costco, The Gap and Anthropologie.
Online, sales were 16 percent higher, according to digital business analyst, Comscore. There were 10 days on which online sales topped a billion dollars. And during the five-day workweek beginning December 17th, retailers did more than twice as much business as the previous year. Comscore attributes that spike in sales to free shipping offers.
Many traditional brick and mortar retailers are beefing up their online business. Macy's recently opened its third gigantic warehouse. In addition, Macy's, Nordstrom's and Saks are increasingly using their stores to fill online orders.
Ina Jaffe, NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.