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A Happy Holiday Season for Retailers: U.S. Retail Sales Rose 7.9% This Year

Per #SpendingPulse, eCommerce Sales Grew Roughly 20% Compared to 2014

Retailers rejoice! U.S. retail sales saw solid gains this holiday season. According to MasterCard SpendingPulse™, which looks at U.S. retail sales trends across cards, cash and checks, retail sales excluding auto and gas grew 7.9% during the traditional Black Friday to Christmas Eve shopping season. The biggest winners this season were eCommerce and furniture, with double-digit growth, while electronics and men’s apparel lagged well behind.

EcommerceDid eCommerce Save Christmas? For certain retailers, eCommerce sales were a big gift. eCommerce grew roughly 20% compared to last year. This is not a total surprise, as 70% of U.S. consumers report doing more research online than before, according to our recent Omnishopper Guide. Transitioning from research to a sale makes sense, if the proper customer experience and incentive – free or fast shipping, for instance – is in place.



Are Consumers Snuggled Up in Some New Duds? Yes. Overall, apparel saw high single-digit growth during the Black Friday to Christmas Eve window, whereas women’s apparel sales rose double-digits. Men’s apparel, on the other hand, declined. The delayed cold weather pushed back apparel buying this fall, so there was pent up demand that played out following Black Friday.

Did Gas Savings Fuel Spending? Yes. Overall retail sales, ex auto and gas, across all card and payment types, grew 4.6% from November through December compared to last year. Including gas, growth was just 2.7%, reflecting the lower gas prices and reinforcing the fact that consumers are spending the money they’re saving at the pump.

“After a slow start, I’m very happy to see that the holiday season was hot for retailers,” said Sarah Quinlan, SVP, Market Insights for MasterCard Advisors. “We saw some very promising trends. The double-digit growth in furniture sales, for instance, shows that consumers are willing and able to splurge on big ticket items. eCommerce’s rise is a solid indication of an empowered and savvy shopper. We’ll be watching to see if this behavior continues into 2016.”

MasterCard SpendingPulse: SpendingPulse reports on national U.S. retail sales across all payments types. The findings are based on aggregate sales activity in the MasterCard payments network, coupled with survey-based estimates for certain other payment forms, such as cash and check. In addition to the United States, SpendingPulse is available in select markets around the world.

The Retail CMO’s Guide to the Omnishopper: The Retail CMO’s Guide to the Omnishopper blends insights from MasterCard transaction-based insights with a proprietary survey of omnishoppers conducted in nine markets: Brazil, China, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Poland, UAE, U.S. and U.K. The online survey of 11,337 people was conducted July 2015.