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Mastercard SpendingPulse: U.S. Retail Sales Grew 8.5%* This Holiday Season

It’s been a resurgent season for retailers as consumers stocked their carts with gifts and gadgets. According to Mastercard SpendingPulseTM, holiday retail sales excluding automotive increased 8.5% year-over-year this holiday season, running from November 1 through December 24. Notably, online sales grew 11.0% compared to the same period last year, the preliminary insights show. Mastercard SpendingPulse measures in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment.

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“Shoppers were eager to secure their gifts ahead of the retail rush, with conversations surrounding supply chain and labor supply issues sending consumers online and to stores in droves”

“Shoppers were eager to secure their gifts ahead of the retail rush, with conversations surrounding supply chain and labor supply issues sending consumers online and to stores in droves,” said Steve Sadove, senior advisor for Mastercard and former CEO and Chairman of Saks Incorporated. “Consumers splurged throughout the season, with apparel and department stores experiencing strong growth as shoppers sought to put their best dressed foot forward.”

Findings from Mastercard SpendingPulse underscore the strength of the holiday shopper across channels, with consumers returning to stores (+8.1% YOY), and e-commerce continuing to expand, up 11.0% compared to 2020. Additional key findings include:

  • Consumers shopped early: Continuing a key trend from 2020, U.S. consumers shopped earlier than in years past, as retailers offered special promotions early and then again later in the season as shoppers raced to secure “guaranteed by Christmas” shipping offers. Looking at Mastercard’s expanded holiday season, total retail sales were up +8.6%* YOY for the 75 days between October 11 and December 24.
  • Thanksgiving weekend remained key: Black Friday marked the top spending day of the 2021 holiday season yet again. For the Thanksgiving weekend running Friday, November 26 through Sunday, November 28, shoppers drove U.S. retail sales up +14.1% YOY. In-store sales also rebounded, increasing +16.5% YOY while e-commerce sales experienced sustained growth, up +4.9% YOY.
  • Smaller boxes had a big impact: Whether consumers were shopping for themselves or for loved ones, the Jewelry sector experienced some of the strongest YOY and YO2Y growth.
  • E-commerce sales snowballed: This holiday season, e-commerce made up 20.9% of total retail sales, up from 20.6% in 2020 and 14.6% in 2019. The channel continues to experience elevated growth as consumers enjoy the ease of holiday browsing and buying in the comfort of their own homes.

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Mastercard SpendingPulse™

U.S. Holiday Retail Sales

Traditional Holiday Period

Nov. 1 – Dec. 24

2021 vs. 2020

2021 vs. 2019

Total retail (ex. auto)

+8.5%

+10.7%

In-store

+8.1%

+2.4%

E-commerce sales

+11.0%

+61.4%

2021 vs. 2020

2021 vs. 2019

Apparel

+47.3%

+29.0%

Department Stores

+21.2%

+11.0%

Electronics

+16.2%

+19.8%

Jewelry

+32.0%

+26.2%

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

*excluding automotive

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