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Mastercard: Strongest holiday shopping season in six years

Shoppers were feeling the giving spirit this holiday season, according to data released yesterday by Mastercard.

mastercard retail shopping
Home improvement spending surged, up 9 percent this holiday season. Photo by Bob Rozycki

The Purchase-based company reported sales up 5.1 percent this holiday season from last, reaching $850 billion. That is the strongest growth in the past six years, the company said.

The data comes from Mastercard SpendingPulse, which tracks retail spending trends across all payment types. The SpendingPulse report details shopping from Nov. 1 through Dec. 24.

The report had good news for Amazon and not-so-good news for the big stores. Spending through online shopping saw gains of 19.1 percent compared with 2017. Department stores, meanwhile, finished the season with a 1.3 percent decline from 2017. That follows two years with growth below 2 percent, which Mastercard said can be partly attributed to store closings. In a bright spot for department stores, their online sales grew 10.2 percent from a year earlier.

Related: Westchester retailers ring in season with creativity

There were strong sales numbers for apparel, up 7.9 percent from 2017. That’s the sector’s best growth rate since 2010. Home improvement spending also surged, up 9 percent this holiday season, according to Mastercard. Home furniture and furnishing climbed 2.3 percent for the season, while electronics and appliances fell by a little, down 0.7 percent.

Mastercard said poor weather may have dampened shopping spirits a bit, particularly the cold weather on Black Friday morning on the East Coast, and wet weather across the country the weekend of Dec. 15 and 16.

SpendingPulse bases its findings on aggregate sales activity in the Mastercard payments network, coupled with survey-based estimates for other payment forms, such as cash and check.


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