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MasterCard SpendingPulse: U.S. Holiday Retail Sales Improve Year Over Year

According to the MasterCard SpendingPulse U.S. retail holiday shopping season report, retail sales showed decent growth in 2013, with a 2.3 percent increase over last year. This estimate reflects the shopping period between November 1 and December 24, and includes the holiday  categories: Apparel, Electronics, Jewelry, Luxury, and Home Furniture & Furnishings. Total retail spending (including all sectors) in the U.S. during this period was up 3.5 percent.

Among the holiday-related categories, jewelry was a clear winner, and one of the few sectors that increased over last year. Total Apparel also saw modest growth, while Luxury and Electronics were flat. eCommerce sales showed low double-digit growth.

“The holiday shopping results are in line with expectations, but several factors impacted retail sales this year,” said Sarah Quinlan, Senior Vice President, Market Insights for MasterCard Advisors, which produces the monthly SpendingPulse report. “Having six fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, as well as bad weather in some parts of the country for the final two weekends of the season clearly had an effect on sales. Yet holiday sales were a clear improvement over last year’s weaker numbers.  One clear bright spot is that many consumers who were stuck indoors turned to online shopping to check items off their list and that helped drive eCommerce growth.”

A separate analysis by MasterCard Advisors also showed that larger retailers performed slightly better than their smaller counterparts this year, likely due to the increased sales and promotions starting early in the season.