According to the Hill, as well as a report from credit card company Mastercard, online sales in the U.S. hit a record high this holiday season. Records from Nov. 1 through Dec. 24 showed that e-commerce sales rose 18.8 percent from last year and amounted to 14.6 percent of all retail sales, Mastercard said in a statement on the report’s findings. Overall retail purchases, not including cars, increased 3.4 percent from the same period in 2018. Mastercard senior adviser Steve Sadove said “E-commerce sales hit a record high this year with more people doing their holiday shopping online, due to a later than usual Thanksgiving holiday, we saw retailers offering omnichannel sales earlier in the season, meeting consumers’ demand for the best deals across all channels and devices.”
With Thanksgiving falling on Nov. 28 this year, there were not that many days during the traditional holiday shopping season compared with last year, when Thanksgiving was on Nov. 22. Mastercard spokesman, William Tsang that this year’s sales growth was not the largest ever. Claiming that there was a 5.1 percent growth in total sales last year over the year 2017. Retailers have invested heavily to provide same-day delivery, lockers for store pick-up and improve their online presence as they battle against retail giant Amazon.com Inc for market share.
According to Reuters, the holiday season was challenging for certain retailers after Amazon expanded its free return policy to include products that were not previously eligible, giving consumers until January to return even small purchases bought on the website. Despite slowing global growth, U.S. consumer spending is benefiting from wage growth and a strong labor market, according to retail consultants and analysts. The National Retail Federation predicted that U.S. holiday retail sales over the two months to increase between 3.8% and 4.2%. That compares with an average annual increase of 3.7% over the past five years.
According to Barron’s, households are in good shape. Unemployment is at half-century lows, wages have been increasing faster than inflation, and consumer confidence remains high for the cycle. This fact likely helped shoppers feel particularly hopeful this holiday season, and they opened their wallets to celebrate. A big deal for many retailers, including Tiffany which had to built up its inventories this fall in anticipation of a strong holiday season. The high-end jeweler reported on Thursday that its preliminary worldwide net sales rose between 1% and 3% this past holiday season from a year earlier. December retail sales data from the U.S. Commerce Department will be out on Jan. 16. That will include spending on other categories not included in Mastercard’s report, such as automobiles. Apparel, as a matter of fact, experienced stronger than expected e-commerce growth this season, up 17% compared with 2018. Overall, the category saw a 1% gain year-over-year. Comparing retail sectors, department stores continue to struggle, with overall sales declining 1.8%. All thanks to last minute shoppers buying retail online during the holidays.