(Reuters) - Apparel-focused U.S. retailers saw sales perk up over the four-day promotional period that kicked off on Thanksgiving Day, though department-store and electronics revenue was roughly flat, a MasterCard executive told Reuters in an interview Monday.
Specialty-apparel retailers enjoyed a pick-up in sales over the extended holiday weekend that began on Thursday as colder weather unleashed pent-up demand for winter clothing, Sarah Quinlan, a senior vice president at MasterCard, said in a sneak preview of an upcoming spending report by the company.
Department stores, however, did not enjoy a similar boost, reflecting the segment's ongoing struggles to attract consumers, Quinlan said.
Based on initial checks, the segment's sales were "about flat," she said, although that could mark an improvement after 14 straight months of decline.
"All year long, department stores have remained very very challenged. That will still continue to be the case," Quinlan said.
Specialty apparel retailers include companies like the Gap Inc (GPS.N), while department stores include Macys Inc (M.N) and Sears Holdings Corp (SHLD.O)
Quinlan's comments come ahead of the release on Wednesday of Mastercard's report on consumer spending during the Black Friday weekend, from Nov. 26 to Nov. 29.
The weekend traditionally has marked the start of the holiday shopping season, although retailers have begun promotions earlier in the month.
The report, which tracks spending by combining sales activity in MasterCard's payments network with estimates of cash and other payment forms, is also likely to show a "muted" performance for electronics.
Electronics sales were being held back by a lack of new, "hot items" and by falling prices, Quinlan said. Mastercard was expecting the segment's sales to be "basically flat" over the entire holiday season through end-December.
Online sales growth was in the double digits over the extended Thanksgiving weekend, beating MasterCard's forecast for about 8 percent growth, Quinlan said.
(Reporting by Nathan Layne in Chicago; Editing by Bernadette Baum)