2018 Holiday Shopping Season Best in Six Years: $850 Billion in Sales, Up 5.1 Percent from 2017

The Associated Press
AP Photo/Lynne Sladky
PENNY STARR

American Consumers helped the 2018 holiday shopping season be bright as they spent more than $850 billion online and in stores — the strongest showing in six years.

Those sales also represent a 5.1 percent increase from the 2017 holiday shopping season, according to a report published this month by Mastercard.

“A robust shopping season from before Thanksgiving through Christmas has given retailers much to cheer about this year,” the press release announcing the report said. “Online shopping also saw large gains of 19.1 percent compared to 2017.”

The Mastercard SpendingPulse report tracked holiday shopping from November 1 through December 24. Key findings reveal that despite weather challenges in some parts of the country, it was a jolly holiday season for retail overall even if the numbers vary based on categories.

Mastercard reported:

• Total apparel had a strong season with a growth rate of 7.9 percent compared to 2017, recording the best growth rate since 2010. The category followed through on a strong momentum that started during the back-to-school season and accelerated through fall right up to Christmas.

• Home improvement spending continued to surge across the U.S. with spending during the holiday season up 9.0 percent. This trend started before the holiday season and helped the sector power through to a strong finish.

• Department stores finished the season with a 1.3 percent decline from 2017. This follows two years with growth below 2 percent, some of which can be attributed to store closings. However, the online sales growth for department stores indicated a more positive story, with growth of 10.2 percent.

• Electronics and appliances were down 0.7 percent. The home furniture and furnishings category grew 2.3 percent.

“From shopping aisles to online carts, consumer confidence translated into holiday cheer for retail,” Steve Sadove, senior advisor for Mastercard and former CEO and Chairman of Saks Incorporated said. “By combining the right inventory with the right mix of online versus in-store, many retailers were able to give consumers what they wanted via the right shopping channels.”

News4SanAntonio.com reported on the joyous shopping season:

Consumer confidence has remained at its highest levels since before the great recession. Job growth is projected to continue into its 99th straight month, wages have been rising slowly but steadily and many households saw extra take-home pay from the tax cuts.

Lower gas prices through December also contributed to the holiday spending spree. AAA reported national gas prices averaged $2.37 this month, the cheapest December pump prices since 2016.

“There’s never been a better time to be an American consumer,” Jason Brewer, vice president of communications with the Retail Industry Leaders Association, said in the News4SanAntonio report. “You have so much power at your fingertips to compare prices and to shop around and retailers are meeting that challenge.”

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