There were robust predictions for holiday shopping this year and at first glance it seems those predictions were right. It was a resurgent season for retailers as consumers stocked their carts with gifts and gadgets. According to Mastercard SpendingPulse, holiday retail sales excluding automotive increased 8.5 percent year-over-year this holiday season, running from November 1st through December 24th. Notably, online sales grew 11.0 percent compared to the same period last year, the preliminary insights show. Mastercard SpendingPulse measures in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment.
- Consumers shopped early: Continuing a key trend from 2020, US consumers shopped earlier than in years past, as retailers offered special promotions early and then again later in the season as shoppers raced to secure “guaranteed by Christmas” shipping offers. Looking at Mastercard’s expanded holiday season, total retail sales were up 8.6 percent YOY for the 75 days between October 11th and December 24th.
- Thanksgiving weekend remained key: Black Friday marked the top spending day of the 2021 holiday season yet again. For the Thanksgiving weekend running Friday, November 26th through Sunday, November 28th, shoppers drove U.S. retail sales up 14.1 percent YOY. In-store sales also rebounded, increasing +16.5% YOY while e-commerce sales experienced sustained growth, up 4.9 percent YOY.
- Smaller boxes had a big impact: Whether consumers were shopping for themselves or for loved ones, the Jewelry sector experienced some of the strongest YOY and YO2Y growth.
- E-commerce sales snowballed: This holiday season, e-commerce made up 20.9 percent of total retail sales, up from 20.6 percent in 2020 and 14.6 percent in 2019. The channel continues to experience elevated growth as consumers enjoy the ease of holiday browsing and buying in the comfort of their own homes.
There were also concerns this year about supply chain issues and shipping delays but despite those fears, holiday shoppers received their gifts mostly on time.