The numbers are beginning to roll in. And according to early figures, holiday spending got a lift this year.
U.S. retail sales, excluding automotive sales, between Nov. 1 through Dec. 24 increased 7.6% year-over-year. That’s according to data from Mastercard SpendingPulse, which measures in-store and online retail sales across all payment forms.
E-commerce sales grew 10.6% compared to last year and made up 21.6% of total retail sales, up from 20.9% in 2021 and 20.6% in 2020. In-store sales grew 6.8% over 2021. Black Friday was the top spending day of the holiday season this year, up 12% year-over-year.
While these numbers are not adjusted for inflation, they represent a cost-conscious consumer that took advantage of markdowns and a heavily promotional environment this holiday season.
“This holiday retail season looked different than years past,” said Steve Sadove, senior advisor for Mastercard and former CEO and chairman of Saks Inc. “Retailers discounted heavily, but consumers diversified their holiday spending to accommodate rising prices and an appetite for experiences and festive gatherings post-pandemic.”
While prices this season were higher than last year, they have begun to moderate in recent months. In November, consumer prices rose by 7.1% compared to last year, according to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, marking the smallest 12-month increase since the period ending in December 2021 and a slowdown from October’s 7.7% growth.
Inflation made consumers more price-conscious and deal-hungry this holiday season, explained Michelle Meyer, North America chief economist of Mastercard Economics Institute.
“Consumers and retailers navigated the season well, displaying resilience amid increasing economic pressures,” Meyer said.
By category, apparel sales were up 4.4%, department store sales were up 1%, and restaurant sales were up 15.1%. Electronics and jewelry sales declined from last year.
Forecasts this year overwhelmingly predict that holiday retail sales would grow this year, though at a slower rate than in 2021. The National Retail Federation predicted that total sales between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31 would grow between 6% and 8% compared to 2021, representing a total of between $942.6 billion and $960.4 billion in sales, on top of last year’s record-breaking 13.5% growth to $889.3 billion.