Christmas 2002 in the US looks to have been one of the worst for over thirty years in terms of retail sales growth, judging by early reports.

Wal-Mart announced last week that it is slashing its December forecast for same-store sales from 3%-5% growth on last year to just 2% to 3%.

The news confirmed fears that a late shopping surge just before Christmas was not enough to boost overall holiday sales to anticipated levels.

The discount colossus is the first major retailer to revise its predictions, but others are expected to follow suit. Target has already revealed it is “well below plan”, while May Department Stores and Federated Department Stores have also said sales are lower than estimated.

A report from UBS Warburg and Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi estimates that overall year-on-year growth for November and December will stand at just 1.5%, the slowest increase since the survey began in 1970.

Nevertheless, for the online sector it was a bumper Christmas. reported its “busiest holiday season ever”, as customers around the world ordered over 56 million items from the start of November to December 23.

Data sourced from: multiple sources; additional content by WARC staff