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Holiday Online Retail Sales Jump 6.3% Amid ‘Deliberate’ Spending

American consumers upped their holiday spending this year, doing a lot of that spending online.

That’s according to preliminary results from Mastercard’s SpendingPulse released Tuesday (Dec. 26), showing retail sales increasing 3.1% — not adjusted for inflation — year over year from Nov. 1 to Dec. 24. That’s compared to the 7.4% growth in retail sales Mastercard recorded for 2022.

“This holiday season, the consumer showed up, spending in a deliberate manner,” Michelle Meyer, chief economist, Mastercard Economics Institute, said in a news release. “The economic backdrop remains favorable with healthy job creation and easing inflation pressures, empowering consumers to seek the goods and experiences they value most.”

Among the top retail trends the company spotted this year was a 6.3% increase in online retail sales, compared to a 2.2% uptick for in-store sales. According to Mastercard, online spending is rising at a faster clip than in-store, “thus taking a growing slice of the retail pie,” although in-store sales still account for a substantial portion of total retail spending.

Mastercard also recorded a 2.4% year-over-year increase in apparel sales, a 7.8 increase in restaurant sales, and 2.1% increase in the grocery sector.

“Retailers started promotions early this season, giving consumers time to hunt for the best deals and promotions,” Steve Sadove, senior adviser for Mastercard and former CEO and chairman of Saks Incorporated, said in the release. “Ultimately it was about getting the most bang for your buck as consumers spent on a variety of goods and services, resurfacing spending trends from before the pandemic.”

While retailers may have gotten an early start on promotions, many stores chose not to continue that trend right up to the end of the holiday shopping season.

As noted here last week, a report by Reuters — data from Centric Market Intelligence and Vertical Knowledge — found a dip in the number and size of price markdowns from November to December at retailers such as Macy’s, Ulta, Abercrombie & Fitch and Bloomingdale’s.

The report noted that the decline in discount could be down to the fact that price-conscious shoppers had already finished their shopping. 

And PYMNTS Intelligence has found that consumers got an early start for the holiday shopping season, showing up in record numbers for this year’s Black Friday weekend.