Retail Sales Stayed Strong During the Holiday Season

Sean Reid
December 28, 2017

The holiday shopping season, a crucial period for retailers that can account for up to 40% of annual sales, brought record-breaking online and in-store spending this year of more than US$800 billion, according to Mastercard Inc's analytics arm. Sales for this period were tracked by SpendingPulse Report from MasterCard, which tracked sales across all types of payment from November 1 to December 24.

In October, the National Retail Federation predicted a holiday sales increase of between 3.6% and 4%.

A longer holiday season between Thanksgiving and Christmas and a full weekend just before Christmas helped fuel higher sales than recent years past.

While Mastercard did not say how much money was spent over the holidays, Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners, said that shoppers would spend $598 billion this holiday season, up $33 billion from past year.

E-commerce sales rose 18.1% YoY, beating even the high end of the NRF's predictions, which projected 11-15% YoY growth in non-store sales for the holiday season.

The report says the sales increase is a new record for the number of dollars spent, but no figure was released. Electronics and appliance sales were up 7.5%. This is the largest year-over-year increase since 2011 and a further indication of consumer confidence. The home furniture and furnishings category grew 5.1 percent, as did home improvement.

Remember those Christmas promotions right after Halloween and into the first weeks of November?

"Evolving consumer preferences continue to play out in the aisles and online sites of retailers across the US", said Sarah Quinlan, senior vice president of Market Insights for Mastercard in a release.

Although Quinlan admitted that the strong US economy was a contributing factor, an upgraded customer experience also helped. December 23 ranked next to Black Friday in terms of spending, according to Mastercard.

In another sign of the overall sector's strength, a public index launched in mid-November to track the performance of traditional USA retailers showed a almost 15.7% increase in market returns as of Friday.

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