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US Holiday Shopping Hits 6-Year High

U.S. holiday shopping hit a six-year high during the 2018 season, according to a report from Mastercard on consumer spending between Nov. 1 and Dec. 24.

Americans spent more than $850 billion during the holiday season, a 5.1 percent increase from the 2017 season, reported Reuters. The National Retail Federation had only predicted a 4.3 to 4.8 percent increase.

“Gas prices are low. People are benefiting from lower tax rates,” Steve Sadove, Mastercard senior advisor, said according to USA Today. “You have an environment where people are, bottom line, feeling good about their own personal financial situation and that’s been reflected.”

The Mastercard report includes data on both in-store shopping and e-commerce. The latter saw a big jump with online spending increasing 19.1 percent from last year, reported Reuters.

Winners in the e-commerce race included Amazon and, to a lesser degree, department stores selling goods online. Amazon said Wednesday its holiday sales broke records after it shipped a billion items within the U.S. for free with Prime, reported Reuters.

Meanwhile, department stores saw their overall sales slip 1.3 percent as online sales grew 10.2 percent, according to Reuters.

Retailers had been gearing up for the holiday shopping season since September or earlier by hiring extra workers.

And some consumers considered their shopping a chance to vote with their wallets and support more conservative-leaning retailers.

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