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Mastercard: Holiday retail sales up 7.6%, Ecommerce gains

Mastercard SpendingPulse provided the first look at data for the holiday shopping season as a whole.

Mastercard: Holiday retail sales up 7.6%, Ecommerce gains
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Photo by Heidi Fin on Unsplash

We made it.

The 2022 holiday shopping season is mostly in the books. While final clearance sales and returns remain, Christmas marks the end of the bulk of the spending activity for retail's most important quarter of the year. Now, with a week left until 2023, it’s a time to take stock of this year's results.

Mastercard SpendingPulse delivered first with a day-after-Christmas data drop on Monday. The headline numbers for the period from Nov. 1- Dec. 24 were as follows:

  • Overall US retail sales, excluding automotive, grew 7.6% year-over-year.
  • Online sales grew 10.6%, while in-store sales grew 6.8%.
  • Ecommerce share of overall retail was 21.6%, which was up from 20.9% in 2021 and 20.6% in 2020.
  • Black Friday remained the top shopping day of the season, and garnered a 12% increase over last year.

Results were mixed in key categories.

Increases on an annual basis were reported in apparel (4.4%) and department stores (1%).

Yet declines were also observed in top gifting categories, including electronics (-5.3%) and jewelry (-5.4%).

Restaurant spending, which happens alongside holiday shopping, was up 15.1%, highlighting a notable push back toward in-store shopping.

The category trends will add evidence that shoppers were willing to spend on discounted merchandise in more moderately priced categories, but held back on bigger discretionary purchases in an economy where inflation and interest rates are leading consumers to make choices.

While Mastercard’s data is not adjusted for inflation, the numbers did show growth despite the heavy discounting that was observed taking place.

“Inflation altered the way U.S. consumers approached their holiday shopping – from hunting for the best deals to making trade-offs that stretched gift-giving budgets,” said Michelle Meyer, North America chief economist at Mastercard Economics Institute, in a statement. “Consumers and retailers navigated the season well, displaying resilience amid increasing economic pressures.”

Those pressures made the 2022 holiday season a difficult one to forecast. Even early results have been something of a puzzle. These data points, which measure in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment, will be considered along with other broad measures and retailer earnings reports to determine how this peak season stacked up. With many results still set to come in, the postseason analysis is only just beginning.

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