United States retail holiday sales jump 4.9%, biggest increase since 2011

Holiday Sales Jump 4.9% Largest One Year Improvement Since 2011

Sales, excluding automobiles, rose 4.9% from November 1 through Christmas Eve, compared with a 3.7% gain in the same period past year, according to the Mastercard Inc. unit, which tracks all forms of payment. However, Quinlan said that brick-and-mortar stores saw the largest increases, with online sales only making up 11 to 12 percent of all purchases. The exciting retail growth across several categories should help many retailers post better numbers to close out the year, though they'd be smart to invest in their e-commerce capabilities in order to build on the success of the holiday season by capitalizing on increasing online shopping.

About 5 percent of consumers expected to finish buying gifts after Christmas Day, according to the National Retail Federation, which surveyed 7,212 people about their holiday shopping plans between December 4 and December 12.

However, some indications so that American might be stretching finances for their shopping splurge during the holiday.

While Mastercard did not say how much money was spent over the holidays, Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners, said that shoppers would spend $598 billion this holiday season, up $33 billion from a year ago. The 4.9% YoY growth compares favorably to the 2016 holiday season's 3.7% YoY increase, and is the industry's biggest holiday surge since 2011, when it jumped 6.8% YoY.

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Counting the "second season" for retail which is the week between Christmas and New Year's, sales overall for the complete holiday season are expected to surpass $671 billion, said the research firm.

Retailers' heavy early-season promotions paid off, with the first three weeks of November seeing significant jumps.

In addition, shoppers were still spending late into the season, with December 23 next to Black Friday in terms of single-day spending.

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Although Quinlan admitted that the strong USA economy was a contributing factor, an upgraded customer experience also helped.

The findings were based on aggregate sales activity in the Mastercard payments network, along with survey based-estimates for other forms of payment, including cash and checks, Mastercard said.

MasterCard did not provide dollar figures for holiday retail sales.

SpendingPulse reports on national US retail sales across all payments types.

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