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Holiday sales said to be strongest in six years

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Online shopping was up 19.1% compared to 2017.

PURCHASE, N.Y. — Holiday sales increased 5.1% to $850 billion, according to the Mastercard SpendingPulse report, which characterized the season from November 1 through December 24 as retailers’ strongest holiday period in six years.

“From shopping aisles to online carts, consumer confidence translated into holiday cheer for retail,” said Steve Sadove, senior adviser for Mastercard. “By combining the right inventory with the right mix of online versus in-store, many retailers were able to give consumers what they wanted via the right shopping channels.”

Online shopping was up 19.1% compared to 2017, according to the report.

Total apparel had a strong season, with a year-on-year growth rate of 7.9%. Apparel sustained momentum that started during the back-to-school season and accelerated through the fall, Mastercard said.

Home improvement spending rose 9%.

Department stores finished the season with a 1.3% decline following two years with growth below 2%, according to the report. Store closings contributed to this year’s decline, as did the rise in digital sales, Mastercard concluded. Online sales at department stores increased 10.2%.

Meanwhile, sales of electronics and appliances declined 0.7% this year, and sales of furniture and home furnishings increased 2.3%.


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