Innovative retail strategies help boost holiday sales to record-setting numbers

Holiday retail sales increased 4.9 percent over the previous year, marking the largest year-over-year increase since 2011, according to the latest Mastercard SpendingPulse report. The report, which tracks retail spending by all payment types, found that consumer confidence, innovative retail strategies, robust online shopping activity and last-minute gift buyers were responsible for the record-setting numbers. 

"Overall, this year was a big win for retail," said Sarah Quinlan, senior vice president of market insights at Mastercard.

Although Quinlan admitted that the strong U.S. economy was a contributing factor, an upgraded customer experience also helped.

"We also have to recognize that retailers who tried new strategies to engage holiday shoppers were the beneficiaries of this sales increase," she said.

Key findings included:

  • Electronics and appliances increased 7.5 percent, the strongest growth of the last 10 years. The home furniture and furnishings category grew 5.1 percent, as did home improvement.
  • Specialty apparel and department stores, which both traditionally see the bulk of sales happen in-store, saw moderate gains. 
  • Retailers’ heavy early-season promotions paid off, with the first three weeks of November seeing significant jumps.
  • In addition, shoppers were still spending late into the season, with December 23 next to Black Friday in terms of single-day spending. This was a boon to certain categories, including jewelry. Jewelry grew 5.9 percent, largely driven by last-minute sales.

"Evolving consumer preferences continue to play out in the aisles and online sites of retailers across the U.S.," Quinlan said.

The SpendingPulse reports on national U.S. retail sales across all payments types. All figures are retail excluding automotive. 

Topics: Omnichannel / Multichannel, Online Retailing, Payments

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