Mastercard SpendingPulse today reports 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. 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.
Key findings of the Mastercard SpendingPulse report include:
- This was a winning holiday season for retail overall, though the story was different category by category.
- For many shoppers, there was no place like home this holiday season. Electronics and appliances increased 7.5 percent, the strongest growth of the last 10 years. The home furniture and furnishings category grew 5.1 percent, as did home improvement.
- 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.
- 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. This was a boon to certain categories, including jewelry. Jewelry grew 5.9 percent, largely driven by last-minute sales.
“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.”