Strong end to the festive retail season as Brits returned to the shops

January 7, 2022 | London, UK
  • In-store retail sales rivalled pre-pandemic shopping in the UK, up 13.7% y-o-y, as consumers return to stores for holiday shopping
  • Clothing (17.6%) and Jewellery (19.9%) sales increased, with spend for the holidays strong in year-over-year growth
  • Uplift in sales surpassed previous predictions, brought on by more in-store and last- minute shopping in the UK

Even with last minute restrictions and uncertainty around festive plans, the UK still saw a resurgent season in retail. According to Mastercard SpendingPulse™, which measures in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment, total retail sales* experienced positive year-over-year growth as the season comes to a close.

The uplift in UK retail sales year-over-year for the 1st November through 28th December period increased 13.7%. The boost in retail shows that, despite new Covid guidance and restrictions for many, retailers kept customers shopping.

Mastercard SpendingPulse


YOY Growth for UK

YO2Y Growth for UK


1st November – 26th December 2021 vs. 1st Nov – 26th Dec 2020

1st November – 26th December 2021 vs. 1st Nov – 26th Dec 2019

Total Retail



















Source: Mastercard SpendingPulse, which measures overall retail sales across all payment types, including cash and cheque.

2021 saw YoY total sales increase across the UK, as well as compared to Yo2Y sales, as Brits embraced the festive season with renewed excitement for retail investment, and a return to in-store shopping.

While many European countries, including France, Italy, Spain and Germany, also saw YoY total sales increase in 2021, UK retail fared particularly well as the lack of a national lockdown led to late season in-person shopping, and the resurgence of in-store spend. This generated a 26% increase in in-store physical retail sales when compared to the previous year.

As UK consumers prepared for the festive season, this increase in retail also translated to what they bought, with sales in jewellery and clothing sectors growing notably YoY, as people opened their spending to more fashion and accessories. On the other hand, electronics sales growth slowed compared to 2020, when people invested more in their home environments.  

‘As we look forward to the new year ahead, it is encouraging to see such positive spending in the UK. Despite all the uncertainty we faced this festive season, people still got out to their local stores and shopped across key gifting categories, giving the UK economy a much-needed boost and helping to start the year for businesses and retailers alike with a solid sales platform’, said Kelly Devine, Divisional President, Mastercard UK & Ireland.


Notes to editors:

*Total retail sales excludes fuel (petrol/diesel)

Media Contacts

Suman Hughes, Mastercard

About Mastercard SpendingPulse™

Mastercard SpendingPulse™ reports on national retail sales across all payment types in select markets around the world. 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 cheque. As such, SpendingPulse™ insights do not in any way contain, reflect or relate to actual Mastercard operational or financial performance, or specific payment-card-issuer data.

About Mastercard (UK)

Mastercard is a global technology company in the payments industry. Our mission is to connect and power an inclusive, digital economy that benefits everyone, everywhere by making transactions safe, simple, smart and accessible. Using secure data and networks, partnerships and passion, our innovations and solutions help individuals, financial institutions, governments and businesses realize their greatest potential. With connections across more than 210 countries and territories, we are building a sustainable world that unlocks priceless possibilities for all.