AP News references reports that holiday sales rose 8.5% in the last few weeks of the holiday season. Mastercard Spending Pulse, a company that tracks various types of payments, including cash and debit cards, revealed the percentage Sunday, adding that it expected an 8.8% increase.
The rise, which was fueled by purchases of clothing and jewelry, covered the period of November 1 through December 24. Compared with the pre-pandemic 2019 holiday period, holiday sales were up 10.7%
Breaking down further into categories, clothing sales rose 47%, followed by jewelry sales (32%) and sales in electronics (16%).
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The rise in sales transferred online as online sales went up 11% from a year ago and 61% from 2019. Overall, department stores registered a 21% increase over 2020.
Taking note of the omicron variant, the AP mentioned the impact of the variant shifting shopping for consumers from the physical shopping location to the virtual world of e-commerce. Yet strong sales remained.
“I feel really good about how the season played out,” Steve Sadove, senior adviser to Mastercard and former CEO of Saks Inc. told AP News. “When people feel a little bit uncomfortable, you’ll see a little bit of a pickup in online and a little bit of a slowdown in-store performance.’’
A broader look at holiday sales will hold the spotlight with the release of the National Retail Federation’s combined two-month results in mid-January. The Foundation is the nation’s largest retail trade group. It’s results will be based on an analysis of November and December sales figures from the Commerce Department.
Fourth-quarter financial results from different retailers will also be analyzed, with those findings slated for a February release.
Considering how low impact sales were a year ago early shopping staring in October in anticipation of a product shortage, expectations for a strong holiday season were present. That early shopping proved to be a double-edged sword in part, as evidenced by a slowdown in retail sales in November and the omicron variant wreaking havoc with holiday plans changing for many people who cancelled planned gatherings at the last minute.
Despite the slowdown, things continue to literally look up, regarding holiday sales. In early December, the National Retail Federation mentioned holiday sales were on track to beat its already record-breaking forecasts for an increase of 8.5% to 10.5% compared to the same period year-ago, according to the AP. In 2020, holiday sales increased 8.2%. The reason behind the increase stemmed from shoppers locked down during the early part of the pandemic spending their money on pajamas and home goods, mostly online.
As it stands now, the Federation expects an increase between 11% and 15% for online and other non-store sales, excluding automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants. For more on the rise in holiday sales, click here.