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Holiday Sales Jump 4.9%: Largest One-Year Improvement Since 2011

Holiday Sales Jump 4.9%: Largest One-Year Improvement Since 2011

While coverage of the “retail apocalypse” dominated 2017, the industry is closing out the year on a high note.

U.S. retail sales from Nov. 1 to Christmas Eve were up 4.9% over 2016, the highest year-over-year growth rate since 2011, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse. Online spending helped the big push with an 18.1% gain boosted by a late season rally. Last year, online sales grew 18.9%. The report attributed the overall sales boost to increased consumer confidence and a robust job market.

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“Evolving consumer preferences continue to play out in the aisles and online sites of retailers across the U.S.,” said Sarah Quinlan, Senior VP of Market Insights of Mastercard in a statement. “Overall, this year was a big win for retail. The strong U.S. economy was a contributing factor, but we also have to recognize that retailers who tried new strategies to engage holiday shoppers were the beneficiaries of this sales increase.”

The SpendingPulse report noted that success varied from category to category:

  • Electronics and appliances revenues increased 7.5%, the category’s strongest growth of the last 10 years;
  • The home furniture and furnishings category grew 5.1%, as did home improvement, while jewelry grew 5.9%;
  • Total apparel sales grew only 2.7%; and
  • Women's clothing sales were flat.

Specialty apparel and department stores, which both traditionally see the bulk of sales happen in-store, saw only “moderate” gains.

Dec. 23 — Super Saturday — ranked next to Black Friday in terms of spending, according to Mastercard.The payments giant also saw "significant jumps" in spending during the first three weeks of November due to heavy early-season promotional offers.

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