Holiday Retail Sales +8.5%, Ecommerce +11%, Gladdening Hearts

holiday retail sales mall

There was good news at the bottom of all those seasonal carts, both physical and digital, as holiday retail sales jumped a healthy 8.5% over 2020, while ecommerce sales gained 11% off a monster year, according to preliminary data from MasterCard SpendingPulse.

The comparison between 2019 (pre-pandemic) and 2021 ecommerce results gave a further indication of just how much online buying has grown, gaining 61.4%. Store-based retail was up 2.4% vs. 2019, recovering modestly after a huge hit last year.

Ecommerce continued to gain holiday retail share, making up nearly 21% total sales, up from 20.6% in 2020 and 14.6% in 2019, MasterCard found.

“Shoppers were eager to secure their gifts ahead of the retail rush, with conversations surrounding supply chain and labor supply issues sending consumers online and to stores in droves,” said Steve Sadove, senior advisor for Mastercard and former CEO and Chairman of Saks Inc. in a release. “Consumers splurged throughout the season, with apparel and department stores experiencing strong growth as shoppers sought to put their best dressed foot forward.”

Considering the early start to the shopping season, underscored by Amazon’s launch of a raft of deals on Oct. 4, Mastercard tracked holiday retail sales from Oct. 11-Dec. 24, identifying an 8.6% gain overall year-over-year.

The traditional kickoff of holiday retail sales on Thanksgiving was also strong, MasterCard found. Black Friday was the top spending day of the 2021 season, although a total figure was not released. For the four-day period of Thanksgiving through Sunday, U.S. retail sales gained 14.1%, with in-store sales up 16.5% and ecommerce gaining 4.9%.

The largest gaining categories were apparel (+47.3% vs. 2020 and +29% vs. 2019), department stores (+21.2%, +11.0%), electronics (+16.2%, +19.8%) and jewelry (+32%, +26.2%).

Mastercard SpendingPulse measures overall retail sales across all payment types, including cash and check, but excludes automotive.