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Santa Had a Great Year in 2018, Holidays Sales are UP

Santa had a Great Year

One of the several concerns of the market as of late has been how would retailers do this holiday season? With economic data indicating a slowdown and the Fed continuing to raise interest rates, a question has been how quickly will Main Street and consumer spending become affected?

Mastercard SpendingPulse, which provides insights into overall retail spending trends across all payment types, including cash and check, reported Wednesday that holiday sales increased 5.1% to more than $850 billion this year, representing the strongest growth in the last six years. Meanwhile, online shopping posted 19.1% increase year over year. The Mastercard Spending Pulse report tracks holiday shipping from November 1st through December 24th and is viewed as a broad indicator of the busiest shopping season of the year.

By category, the Mastercard SpendingPulse reported the following information:

  • Total apparel had a strong season with a growth rate of 7.9 percent compared to 2017, recording the best growth rate since 2010. The category followed through on a strong momentum that started during the back-to-school season and accelerated through fall right up to Christmas.
  • Home improvement spending continued to surge across the U.S. with spending during the holiday season up 9.0 percent. This trend started before the holiday season and helped the sector power through to a strong finish.
  • Department stores finished the season with a 1.3 percent decline from 2017. This follows two years with growth below 2 percent, some of which can be attributed to store closings. However, the online sales growth for department stores indicated a more positive story, with the growth of 10.2 percent.

So how was business for the largest e-commerce company in the U.S., Amazon (Click Here)?

Hard numbers were not provided, but Amazon announced on Wednesday that it had a record-breaking holiday season. The company also said Prime Membership (a key driver of the Amazon Flywheel) grew by tens of millions between free trial offerings and paid membership.

“This season was our best yet, and we look forward to continuing to bring our customers what they want, in ways most convenient for them in 2019. We are thrilled that in the U.S. alone, more than one billion items shipped for free this holiday with Prime,” said Jeff Wilke, CEO Worldwide Consumer in a press release. “Thank you to our employees all around the world who are committed to bringing our customers the widest selection of products with low prices and fast and free delivery options throughout the holidays and all year long.”