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U.S. Holiday Retail Sales Up 3.1 Percent: Report

Consumers were ‘deliberate’ during period, Mastercard survey shows.

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PHOTOGRAPHY: Dragos Condrea/iStock.com

U.S. retail sales (excluding automotive) grew 3.1 percent year-over-year (YOY) this holiday season, according to preliminary insights from Mastercard’s annual SpendingPulse. The survey, which covers the period from Nov. 1 through Dec. 24, measures in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment and is not adjusted for inflation.

“This holiday season, the consumer showed up, spending in a deliberate manner,” said Michelle Meyer, Chief Economist, Mastercard Economics Institute. “The economic backdrop remains favorable with healthy job creation and easing inflation pressures, empowering consumers to seek the goods and experiences they value most.”

Some key retail trends from the just-ended holiday season include:

  • Online retail sales increased 6.3 percent YOY, while in-store sales were up a more modest 2.2 percent YOY. Spending online is increasing at a faster pace than in-store, therefore taking a growing slice of the retail pie, but shopping in-store still makes up a considerably larger portion of total retail spending.
  • Apparel was one of the top categories for shoppers this season as consumers shopped for new outfits and upcoming holiday festivities. The sector was up +2.4 percent YOY.
  • Culinary celebrations surged, pushing the restaurant sector up 7.8 percent YOY, while grocery was up just 2.1 percent for the season.

“Retailers started promotions early this season, giving consumers time to hunt for the best deals and promotions,” said Steve Sadove, Senior Advisor for Mastercard and former CEO and Chairman of Saks Inc. “Ultimately it was about getting the most bang for your buck as consumers spent on a variety of goods and services, resurfacing spending trends from before the pandemic.”

Click here for more from the Mastercard study.

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