Holiday sales jumped 11% from pre-pandemic levels

Early shoppers, e-commerce sales boosted holiday shopping above 2019: Mastercard

The 2021 holiday shopping season notched growth led by e-commerce and early shoppers. (iStock)
The 2021 holiday shopping season notched growth led by e-commerce and early shoppers. (iStock)

Despite concerns over supply chain issues, inflation and the omicron variant’s spread, one report says retailers had a holly jolly Christmas,.

Boosts among in-store and online shoppers pushed sales nearly 11 percent above pre-pandemic levels and marked an 8.5 percent increase year-over-year, according to Mastercard’s SpendingPulse report.

The analysis defines the holiday shopping season as Nov. 1 through Dec. 24 and excludes automotives from sales figures.

While the year-over-year gains are likely a welcome development, total sales were notably up 10.7 percent from 2019. That rise was largely on the back of e-commerce, which the report shows rose a stunning 61.4 percent from the same period in 2019 and made up 20.9 percent of all holiday sales tracked in 2021.

The report illustrates the lasting effects of the pandemic-fueled boom in e-commerce, which accounted for more than the 20.6 percent share of sales recorded in 2020 and 14.6 percent in 2019. Growth among in-store sales paled in comparison, rising only 2.4 percent.

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The report found customers were getting their holiday shopping done earlier, for which Mastercard senior advisor Steve Sadove cited widespread “conversations surrounding supply chain and labor supply issues” that sent customers “online and to stores in droves.”

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Apparel had the biggest surge, according to the report, rising 47.3 percent year-over-year and 29 percent from 2019. Another big winner was jewelry, which had sales rise 32 percent from 2020 and 26.2 percent from 2019.

Mastercard’s SpendingPulse report is based on an analysis of aggregate sales activity through both the Mastercard payments network and survey-based estimates for payment forms like cash and checks.

The holiday spending jumps are likely welcome news after data showed Black Friday recovery lagged behind pre-pandemic levels. Preliminary data from Sensormatic Solutions showed retail traffic was down 28.3 percent from 2019, although it was up 47.5 percent from 2020.

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