Dec 28, 2017

US Retail Sales for Season 2017 Increase by 4.9%; Jewellery Up 5.9% Says Mastercard Study

Mastercard SpendingPulse reported recently that retail sales for Holiday Season 2017 had reached a new high with an increase of 4.9 per cent over last year’s sales in the same period, thus “setting a new record for dollars spent”.

“This is the largest year-over-year increase since 2011 and a further indication of consumer confidence,” Mastercard said. “Online shopping also saw large gains of 18.1 per cent compared to 2016, boosted by a late season rally.”

The SpendingPulse report details holiday shopping from November 1 through December 24 and covers retail sales across all payment types, including cash and cheque.

The report found that that though there was cause for cheer for the retail sector overall, each category,  within this whole, performed differently.

Electronics and appliances increased 7.5 per cent, which was its strongest growth of the last 10 years; while the home furniture and furnishings and home improvement categories  grew 5.1 per cent.

“Specialty apparel and department stores, which both traditionally see the bulk of sales happen in-store, saw moderate gains,” the study said. “This is particularly impressive given recent store closings.”

SpendingPulse  puts the success of these categories to heavy early-season promotions by retailers as  the first three weeks of November saw significant jumps.

However, the study found that “shoppers were still spending late into the season, with December 23 next to Black Friday in terms of single-day spending”.

“This was a boon to certain categories, including jewellery,” the study noted. “Jewellery grew 5.9 per cent, largely driven by last-minute sales.”

“Evolving consumer preferences continue to play out in the aisles and online sites of retailers across the U.S.,” said Sarah Quinlan, senior Vice President of Market Insights, Mastercard. “Overall, this year was a big win for retail. The strong U.S. economy was a contributing factor, but we also have to recognise that retailers who tried new strategies to engage holiday shoppers were the beneficiaries of this sales increase.”

While the Mastercard SpendingPulse study did not reveal any absolute figures, media reports quoting a study by research firm Customer Growth Partners put the spend “from the start of the holiday season to Christmas Eve” at US$ 598 billion as compared to US$ 565 billion for the same period last year.

Other analysts expect the sales figures for the season – including the “second season”, that is, the week from Christmas to New Year – to reach US$ 671 billion.