US holiday retail sales grow 3.1%, down from prior year -Mastercard

Dec 26, 2023

(Reuters) -U.S. retail sales rose 3.1% between Nov. 1 and Dec. 24, as shoppers looked for last-minute Christmas deals amid big promotions, a Mastercard report showed on Tuesday.

The increase is lower than the 3.7% growth Mastercard forecast in September and last year’s 7.6% rise as higher interest rates and inflation pressured consumer spending.

Amazon.com and Walmart ramped up promotions through November in the United States to entice bargain-hunting shoppers, but analysts said that the discounts were not as deep as the prior year, when retailers were saddled with excess stock after the pandemic.

Some of those discounts were rolled back starting in December, when customers were expected to buy last-minute gifts and household goods on the Saturday before Christmas – dubbed “Super Saturday.”

Arun Sundaram, an analyst at CRFA Research, said many shoppers waited for Black Friday and Cyber Monday to make holiday purchases and finished the final sprint during Super Saturday.

“Consumers are still spending, but they’re still price conscious and want to stretch their budgets,” Sundaram said. He said the weeks between Cyber Monday and Super Saturday were a “soft period” for spending, but shoppers used the final weekend before Christmas to look for “big deals.”

Ecommerce sales grew at the slower pace of 6.3% compared to last year’s 10.6% as the popularity of online shopping came off pandemic highs, the report showed.

Sales in the apparel and restaurant categories rose 2.4% and 7.8%, respectively, during the holiday shopping period, according to the Mastercard SpendingPulse report, while sales of electronics fell 0.4%.

Mastercard SpendingPulse measures in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment. It excludes automotive sales.

(Reporting by Savyata Mishra in Bengaluru and Arriana McLymore in Charlotte, North Carolina ; Editing by Devika Syamnath and Mark Porter)

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