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Holiday Sales Up 3%: Mastercard Survey

Home-related spending helps fuel increase, while apparel sales take a dive
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Holiday retail sales rose 3% during the holiday shopping season -- from Oct. 11 to Dec. 24 -- according to data from a Mastercard  (MA) - Get Mastercard Incorporated Class A Report survey.

“American consumers turned the holiday season on its head," said Steve Sadove, senior adviser for Mastercard, in a statement. "They shopped from home for the home, leading to record e-commerce growth.”

Online sales grew by nearly 50% when compared with 2019 numbers, according to the Mastercard SpendingPulse survey's preliminary data. Spending related to auto and gasoline were not included in the numbers, which tracked sales over the extended holiday shopping time.

The pushed-back start to the season meant Americans shopped earlier than in past holiday seasons, added Sadove.

E-commerce sales made up nearly a fifth of overall retail sales – up from about 13.4% last year -- found the survey. In addition, spending on home furniture, furnishings, and improvement were big drivers this year.

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Home furniture and furnishings sales were up 16.2% and home improvement up 14.1%, compared with 2019.

Clothing sales were down sharply, however, while electronics and appliances saw modest increases of around 6%.

Not surprisingly, sales at department stores fell by more than 10%, while online sales grew 3.3%. Many retailers have seen a decline in customers to brick-and-mortar shops during the pandemic -- dramatically exacerbating a trend that had been in the works in recent years as more and more shoppers go online to buy.

"Buy online, pick up in store as well as technologies like contactless were key for retailers this season," according to the survey. 

The Mastercard survey, which came out over the holiday weekend, measures overall retail spending trends across all types of payments, including cash, card and check.