Mastercard SpendingPulse reported that holiday sales increased 4.9 percent this year, setting a new record for dollars spent. This is the largest year-over-year increase since 2011 and a further indication of consumer confidence, said the research. Online shopping also saw large gains of 18.1 percent compared to 2016, boosted by a late season rally.
The SpendingPulse report details holiday shopping from November 1 through December 24 and covers retail sales across all payment types, including cash and check. The figures exclude automotive sales.
According to Mastercard, retailers’ heavy early-season promotions paid off, with the first three weeks of November seeing significant jumps. In addition, shoppers were still spending late into the season, with December 23 next to Black Friday in terms of single-day spending.
Specialty apparel and department stores, which both traditionally see the bulk of sales happen in-store, saw moderate gains. This is particularly impressive given recent store closings.
“Evolving consumer preferences continue to play out in the aisles and online sites of retailers across the U.S.,” said Sarah Quinlan, senior vice president of Market Insights, Mastercard. “Overall, this year was a big win for retail. The strong U.S. economy was a contributing factor, but we also have to recognize that retailers who tried new strategies to engage holiday shoppers were the beneficiaries of this sales increase.”
Sucharita Kodali, retail analyst at Forrester Research, told USA Today that consumers made big-ticket purchases in 2016, buying things like cars and vacations. This year, spending shifted to retail.
“You had a unique Christmas this year, which fell on a Monday. That means people are with their families on the days leading up to it. It’s very conducive to store shopping,” she told USA Today. “This is an unusually good year where a lot of things came together to favor the stores.”
Research firm Customer Growth Partners predicts total sales for the holiday shopping season, including the week between Christmas and New Year’s, are on track to reach $671 billion, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Earlier this month, National Retail Federation said sales in November increased 0.9 percent over October on a seasonally adjusted basis and were up 6 percent year-over-year unadjusted. These numbers also exclude automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants.
Stayed for full numbers from the National Retail Federation and the U.S. Census.