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Mastercard SpendingPulse: U.S. Retail Sales Saw Strong Growth in December, Capping a Robust Holiday Shopping Season

Retail trends continue to reflect evolving consumer preferences and demand for personalized experiences

Retail sales in December closed out the year on a high note, according to Mastercard SpendingPulseTM, which measures in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment. This follows a robust holiday season, where retail sales grew 8.5% excluding auto.

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Mastercard SpendingPulse
U.S. Snapshot – December 2021

Sales Growth
December 2021 vs. 2020

Sales Growth
December 2021 vs. 2019

Total Retail Sales (ex. auto & gas)



Total Retail Sales (ex. auto)






By Sector




Department Stores



Electronics & Appliances









Luxury (ex. Jewelry)






Source: Mastercard SpendingPulse, which measures overall retail sales across all payment types, including cash and check.

As we kick-off 2022, there are a number of trends to watch that build on December momentum—including new ways people are shopping and paying and innovative strategies for how retailers are reaching consumers and providing different experiences for them. As detailed in a new Mastercard report, these trends include:

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  • Buying with a Purpose: Consumers are looking for retailers that share their values, creating and delivering products in a sustainable and inclusive way. Across the world, 85% of adults say they’re willing to take personal action to combat environmental and sustainability challenges. And 62% say it’s now more important that companies behave in sustainable and eco-friendly way.
  • Commerce “E-volution”: Retailers and brands spent much of the pandemic shifting or expanding their digital channels, which we see reflected in the SpendingPulse figures, as online sales continued to experience strong growth in December (+13.5% YOY, +60.4% YO2Y). In 2022, innovation will be amplified with retailers looking at different platforms and tactics to reach hyper-connected consumers.
  • Experiential Retail: Innovation has been vital as retailers started to think of their digital and physical stores more cohesively than distinctly separate channels. This trend brought us “phygital” innovation in how retailers engage with customers digitally and in person. We expect the ability to make purchases “how I want” will continue, requiring retailers to offer hybrid models, according to a Mastercard consumer impact study.
  • Consumer Privacy Gets Real: The demand for personalized experience must be met by a heightened focus on consumer privacy. Retailers will need to find new ways to understand and engage their digital consumers effectively.

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