Mastercard: Holiday Sales Were the Strongest in Years

Mastercard: Holiday Sales Were the Strongest in Years

For those who worry about the demise of local retail stores and malls turning into ghost towns, here’s a bit of good news: U.S. retail sales grew 5.1 percent to more than $8.5 billion during the 2018 holiday season, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse, which tracks in-store and online spending.

Online shopping, in particular, hit it out of the park with a gain of 19.1 percent over 2017.

“From shopping aisles to online carts, consumer confidence translated into holiday cheer for retail,” said Steve Sadove, senior advisor for Mastercard and former CEO and Chairman of Saks Incorporated. “By combining the right inventory with the right mix of online versus in-store, many retailers were able to give consumers what they wanted via the right shopping channels.”

In a report that covers holiday shopping between November 1 and December 24, retail sales were led by home improvement (up 9%) and apparel (up 7.9%) with modest gains for home furnishings (up 2.3%) and a slight decline for electronics and appliances, which slipped 0.7%.

Department stores were singled out for having a 10.2% increase in online sales over 2017. In-store sales slipped 1.3%, which Mastercard attributed in part to recent store closings.

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