Holiday retail sales skyrocket as e-commerce posts huge gains
Retail sales in the United States have jumped nearly 11% this season compared to the holiday period in 2019, the year before the pandemic hit the global economy, according to a Mastercard report released on Sunday.
The report, Mastercard ExpensesPulse, showed an 8.5% increase in retail sales during the holiday season, set from November 1 to December 24, compared to last year. Figures exclude auto sales.
In-store sales increased 8.1% from a year ago, while e-commerce sales increased 11%. Compared to 2019, before the pandemic led to an explosion in online orders, e-commerce sales jumped more than 61%.
Online sales accounted for 20.9% of all retail sales this year, according to the Mastercard report. In 2019, online sales accounted for just 14.6% of all retail sales, highlighting how the pandemic has accelerated the shift to e-commerce.
In a statement, Steve Sadove, senior advisor to Mastercard, said many Americans had done their Christmas shopping earlier this year. “Buyers were anxious to secure their gifts before the retail rush,” he said, “with conversations regarding supply chain issues and labor supply sending consumers online and in stores en masse “.
Indeed, despite initial fears, holiday shoppers received their gifts for the most part on time, with many purchases being early and in person. Retailers, too, placed orders for merchandise early and tried to avoid other bottlenecks. For their part, delivery companies have increased their hires to cope with the deluge of parcels, which crushed the Post office last year. Almost all of the packages delivered this year by UPS, FedEx and the Postal Service arrived on time or with minimal delays, according to ShipMatrix.
As the holiday season begins Nov. 1 according to Mastercard accounts, Thanksgiving weekend, the traditional start to holiday shopping, was crucial for retailers. Black Friday, Mastercard noted, was the top spending day during the holiday season, and spending for the entire long weekend was up 14% from a year ago.