Amid the holiday season, total retail sales in the United States jumped by 5.1 percent from Nov. 1 to Dec. 24 compared to the prior year. The sales figures, which were provided by Mastercard SpendingPulse, did not include automobiles and are said to show the most robust growth over a six-year period, The Wall Street Journal reported.
According to consultants and analysts, retailers were challenged to keep up sales throughout the holiday shopping season with an atypically early Thanksgiving. But WSJ reported that merchants like Target and Walmart lengthened their online order deadlines for Christmas. At the same time, Amazon provided the ability for members of its Prime program in some cities to have free Christmas Eve same-day delivery.
The numbers, according to the report, hint that the partial shutdown of the government and challenges in the stock market “haven’t curbed consumer confidence and spending,” according to the paper. Customer Growth Partners President Craig Johnson said, according to WSJ, “Wall Street is running around like a chicken with its head cut off, while Mr. and Mrs. Main Street are happy with their jobs, enjoying their best wage increases in a decade.”
The news comes as U.S. consumers apparently felt free to spend money on goods and services amid declining gas prices. Control retail sales, which is one indicator of retail sales, rose in November and surpassed expectations, the Financial Times reported earlier in December.
Control sales, which does not include food services, building materials, automobiles and gas, increased by 0.9 percent month-on-month at the time. But only a 0.4 percent increase was expected. At the same time, furniture sales increased by 1.2 percent and electronic sales rose by 1.4 percent as sales of fuel dropped by 2.3 percent.
MFR Chief U.S. Economist Joshua Shapiro said, according to FT at the time, that the “report appears to point toward somewhat faster growth in Q4 than we have been forecasting, although much will depend on December retail sales results as well as data on the enormous service sector which are not yet available.”