A strong economy translates into big sales this holiday

Posted at 10:35 AM, Dec 26, 2018

It was a robust shopping season this holiday.

According to Mastercard Spending Pulse, which tracked spending online and in stores across all payment types, shoppers gave retailers much to cheer about in the final stretch before Christmas.

Holiday sales increased 5.1 percent to more than $850 billion between November 1 and December 24.

That’s the strongest increase in the last six years.

Sales of apparel items increased as well, up nearly 8 percent from last year, the biggest growth for apparel sales since 2010, Mastercard said. Home furniture sales rose 2.3 percent, while electronics and appliances slipped 0.7 percent.

Online shopping sales were also up more than 19 percent. Last week, Mastercard said online sales made up 13 percent of total retail sales.

Shoppers spent less at department stores, which Mastercard said was partly due to store closings. But shoppers did head to the websites of department stores, where sales rose 10.2 percent, Mastercard said. Traditional retailers have been updating their websites and smartphone apps, as well as making it easier for shoppers to buy online and then pick up their items in store.