Despite some darker predictions earlier in the season, it seems that retail sales may have bucked expectations down the stretch during the holiday after all.
According to the latest edition of MasterCard’s Spending Pulse report, strong online sales coupled with a big demand for furniture and women’s clothing pushed retail sales growth to a “solid” 7.9 percent during the holiday season
Taking out automobiles and gasoline, sales were up 5.5 percent between Black Friday and Christmas Eve when compared to the same time period last year.
“The double-digit growth in furniture sales … shows that consumers are willing and able to splurge on big ticket items,” Sarah Quinlan, senior vice president of Market Insights at MasterCard Advisors, said in the report.
A slow start to winter, especially in the Eastern U.S., had a depressive effect on retail sales, which ended up boosting said sales as pent-up demand was unleashed during the spending rush. A rush partially powered, Quinlan noted, by consumers with more money in their pocket due to historically low gas prices.
The National Retail Federation, a leading industry group, predicts a 3.7 percent rise in store and online sales in November and December this year, with online sales expected to rise 6-8 percent.