US holiday retail sales rise 3.0% – Mastercard report

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U.S. retail sales rose 3.0% during this year’s expanded holiday shopping season from Oct. 11 to Dec. 24, a report by Mastercard Inc said on Saturday, powered by a pandemic-driven shift toward online shopping.

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U.S. ecommerce sales jumped 49% in this year’s holiday shopping season, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse report, underscoring the COVID-19 pandemic’s role in transforming customers’ shopping habits.

The holiday shopping season can account for the majority of certain retailers’ annual sales, but the health crisis meant several retailers including Walmart Inc and Target Corp, faced with capacity constraints in certain stores, rolled out their holiday promotions early.

The holiday shopping season can account for the majority of certain retailers’ annual sales. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

NEXT UP FOR RETAILERS: A BIG WAVE OF GIFT RETURNS

Holiday e-commerce sales made up 19.7% of total retail sales this year, according to Mastercard’s data.

The National Retail Federation has estimated that the number of people who shopped only online jumped 44% during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, with thin crowds at many stores.

People spending longer at home due to extended work-from-home and remote learning policies have fueled demand for home decor and home-improvement products, with retail sales in the home furniture and furnishings category jumping 16.2% according to the report.

Last-minute shoppers wear face masks as they search for Christmas Eve deals in Park Meadows Mall late Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020, in Lone Tree, Colo. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

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Electronics and appliances also rose 6% during the period, the report said, as a reduction in spending on dining out, travel and leisure encouraged shoppers to make other purchases.

The SpendingPulse report tracks spending by combining sales activity in Mastercard’s payments network with estimates of cash and other payment forms but excludes automobile sales.

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