NEW YORK —The financial strains and shifting shopping habits of Americans have led to uneven fortunes for retailers.
Traditional companies such as Walmart and Mattel have continued to struggle as Americans spend more cautiously in the uncertain economy. But Amazon.com has flourished as shoppers increasingly buy online rather than head to stores.
The trend was evident during the pivotal holiday shopping season, a time roughly from November through December when many retailers can make up to 40 percent of their annual revenue. Overall, government figures show that spending during October through December rose at the fastest clip in three years.
Online shopping rose 10 percent to $46.5 billion in November and December, according to research firm Comscore. Meanwhile, sales at stores rose just 2.7 percent to $265.9 billion, according to ShopperTrak, which tracks data at 40,000 stores in the U.S. And the number of customers in stores dropped 14.6 percent.
“Consumer behavior evolved quickly, as retail foot traffic fell, while online purchases grew,” said Mattel’s CEO, Bryan Stockton, in a call with investors on Friday.
Mattel, the world’s largest toy maker, announced that results for the quarter that included the holiday shopping season missed both analysts’ estimates and the company’s own expectations due to weak sales of Barbie and other toys.
“From my perspective, the 2013 holiday period has to be one of the most transformative I have seen,” Stockton said.