Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Online Holiday Sales: Grim

Holding back on your holiday shopping? You’re not alone. Retail sales plummeted in the first half of November, according to a new report from MasterCard (MA)–and the Web hasn’t been spared.

MasterCard Advisors, a unit of the credit card company, says sales in categories like apparel and electronics have dropped more than 19 percent in the first two weeks of November compared to the same time a year ago. E-commerce sales are comparatively better, but they’re still grim–down 7.5 percent, the company says.

Bad news, obviously, for Amazon (AMZN), eBay (EBAY) and everyone else who sells stuff online for a living. If you’re looking for a sunnier take, you can cling to more optimistic predictions from the likes of eMarketer, which thinks that e-commerce will eke out a four percent gain in November and December. UPDATE: Fresh prognostication from Barclays Capital (i.e., the investment bank formerly known as Lehman): three percent growth during the holiday season, which is down from the eight percent the research group had previously predicted.

Too unpleasant to contemplate early on a Monday morning? Agreed. Let’s think about something more upbeat. I’m pretty sure, for instance, that I am going to be able to buy a very nice television for not much money in the next couple months. I just hope I have a wall to hang it on.

[Image Credit: woohoo120]

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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald