Holiday Sales Top $850 Billion

Holiday sales increased 5.1 percent to more than $850 billion in 2018, according to Mastercard’s latest Mastercard SpendingPulse report.

According to the report, which tracks retail spending trends across all payment types including cash and check, the uptick was the most substantial growth in six years.

Online shopping increased by 19.1 percent year over year.

“From shopping aisles to online carts, consumer confidence translated into holiday cheer for retail,” says Steve Sadove, senior advisor, Mastercard and former chief economic officer and chairman, Saks Incorporated. “By combining the right inventory with the right mix of online versus in-store, many retailers were able to give consumers what they wanted via the right shopping channels.”

Holiday retail highlights include:

  • Apparel performed well with a growth rate of 7.9 percent over 2017, the category's best growth rate since 2010. Apparel sales experienced strong momentum from the back-to-school season through Christmas.
  • Home improvement spending grew across the U.S. and increased 9 percent over the holiday season. The trend started before the holiday period and continued through the end of 2018.
  • The amount spent on electronics and appliances fell 0.7 percent.
  • The home furniture and furnishing categories grew by 2.3 percent.
  • Department stores saw a 1.3 percent decline year over year, which follows two years of gains under 2 percent. Online growth for department stores measured at 10.2 percent.

Weather impacted some shoppers. On Black Friday, cold weather struck the East Coast, and wet weather affected both the West and East Coasts on the weekend of Dec. 15-16. Storms also impacted the East Coast on Dec. 21, potentially affecting sales.

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