Despite a supply chain crisis that turned sectors of the U.S. economy upside down, vacation retail sales rose 8.5% year over year, according to the latest figures released by MasterCard.
MasterCard Spending Pulse tracked online and in-store sales, excluding automobiles, between November 1 and December 24.
Steve Sadove, MasterCard senior advisor and former CEO and chairman of Saks Incorporated, attributed the surge to shoppers eager to secure gifts before the retail onslaught.
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He said discussions on supply chain and labor issues drove consumers “in droves” onto the internet and into stores.
“Consumers have been paying big bucks throughout the season, with clothing and department stores growing strongly as shoppers tried to put their best-dressed foot forward,” Sadove said in a statement.
Other insights from MasterCard’s data showed that consumers shopped earlier this year than in previous years. Black Friday was key as shoppers saw retail sales between Friday, March 26th.
E-commerce accounted for more than a fifth of total retail sales this holiday season – up from 20.6% in 2020 and 14.6% in 2019.
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By category, clothing rose 47%, jewelry 32% and electronics 16%. Online sales increased 11% year over year and 61% year over year. Department stores saw a 21% increase over 2020.
The surge in retail sales came despite shoppers struggling with higher prices, product shortages, and an angry new COVID-19 variant over the past few weeks.
Overall, analysts had expected a strong Christmas season, fueled by the early shopping that began in October in anticipation of a product shortage. Consumers were also determined to celebrate the holidays after a muted one just a year ago.
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Nonetheless, retail sales slowed in November, partly due to early shopping. And Omicron, which has quickly become the dominant version of the virus in the US, has now spoiled vacation plans for many Americans who had to cancel gatherings at the last minute.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.