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Retail Sales Up Since November – Especially E-Commerce

As expected, holiday spending has driven retail sales growth from November until the middle of December – and it will most likely continue through Christmas.

Mastercard’s SpendingPulse, a macroeconomic indicator of spending data for the card brand, recently reported strong retail growth of 3.6% compared to the same time last year. This has led, in part, to Mastercard claiming that this year’s holiday shopping season could be the strongest since 2010, with the potential for sales to top 5% year-over-year growth as noted in a PYMNTS December 18th article.

During November, e-commerce, brick and mortar stores, and restaurants saw an increase in spending of almost 1% compared to October, more than the .3% that economists forecasted. Similarly, department stores and other general merchandise retailers saw a 3.6% rise in sales during November.

Following the trend of retail growth, e-commerce sales are up 16.3% since November ended, according to the same SpendingPulse report. Additionally, Cyber Week (the week starting with Cyber Monday) saw higher growth than Black Friday this year, up 5% year-over-year.

Strong gains were made by retailers opting to launch holiday sales in early November to take advantage of customers ready to buy. These customers focused their purchases on electronics, home improvements, and jewelry among other retail categories that all saw improvements from the previous year. Home-related product sales increased 11.6% while home furniture and furnishing sales were 3.5% higher than 2016.

Sarah Quinlan, Senior Vice President of Market Insights at Mastercard says that 2017 will likely end up being a good year for retailers based on what holiday spend has shown so far. “Unemployment is at 4.1%, wages are rising, consumers are confident. It’s all playing out in the shopping picture this holiday season as retailers and gift recipients would want it to,” Quinlan said.

The Wall Street Journal published a report that echoed the sentiments of SpendingPulse’s findings, reporting that both online and brick and mortar storefronts are enjoying increased consumer spending. Home furnishings, electronics, and appliance stores are seeing strong spending.

Across the pond, sales are up as well. In the U.K., for instance, retail sales were up 3.1% in November and e-commerce sales were up 12.2% compared to last year’s numbers. Similar to the U.S., sales leading categories included electronics and furniture.

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