Early report finds U.S. holiday sales grew 7.6%

by Kim Souza ([email protected]) 414 views 

An early report on holiday spending from Mastercard SpendingPulse indicates holiday sales (excluding automobiles) rose 7.6% between Nov. 1 and Dec. 24. The report measures in-store and online retail sales and is not adjusted for inflation, which rose 7.1% through November.

“This holiday retail season looked different than years past,” said Steve Sadove, senior advisor for Mastercard. “Retailers discounted heavily, but consumers diversified their holiday spending to accommodate rising prices and an appetite for experiences and festive gatherings post-pandemic.”

The report found online sales grew 10.6% compared to the year-ago period. MasterCard said e-commerce made up 21.6% of the total retail sales, up from 20.9% in 2021 and 20.6% in 2020. In-store sales rose 6.8% year over year, and when adjusted for inflation is barely breakeven, the report noted.

“Inflation altered the way U.S. consumers approached their holiday shopping – from hunting for the best deals to making trade-offs that stretched gift-giving budgets,” said Michelle Meyer, chief economist of Mastercard Economics Institute. “Consumers and retailers navigated the season well, displaying resilience amid increasing economic pressures.”

Mastercard said Black Friday was the top spending day of the 2022 holiday season, with sales up 12% from a year ago, excluding automobiles. The report noted that consumers also shopped more on Saturdays in December than a year ago. The survey also found families spent more eating out during the holiday cycle with restaurant sales up 15.1% year over year. When adjusted for inflation, the restaurant sector still managed to see modest sales growth in the 2022 holiday season.

Apparel store sales rose just 4.4%, while department stores saw a 1% growth from a year ago. According to the report, electronics and jewelry store sales declined 5.3% and 5.4%, respectively.

The National Retail Federation will not report its final holiday sales data until Jan. 18. The trade group said on Jan. 3 that November sales increased 5.6% from the prior year. NRF predicts holiday sales will grow between 6% and 8% from a year ago.