It looks like retailers were able to pull off a fairly healthy season this year, possibly beating the National Retail Federation’s prediction of 3.7% growth. The NRF itself hasn’t weighed in just yet, but the MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse found overall retail sales growth of 7.9% this year.
E-commerce, furniture sales, and, perhaps surprisingly, women’s apparel sales helped boost that number, according to MasterCard Advisors. In fact, MasterCard found e-commerce sales growth was up 20%. Between Black Friday and Christmas Eve last year, retail sales grew some 5.5%, according to the report.
Meanwhile, many areas saw fairly quiet stores post-Christmas, in contrast to expectations that shoppers would head to stores to take advantage of post-holiday sales, considering that they had the weekend to do so.
Warm weather and an overall promotional environment were expected to dull holiday sales this year, but retailers may have had a fairly healthy ride after all.
The boost in furniture sales are a sign that consumers are willing to spend on bigger-ticket items. And pent-up demand for clothing in unseasonably warm weather, plus savings from lower gas prices, helped spur some last-minute apparel and jewelry sales, according to the MasterCard Advisors report.
Consumers were most interested in spending money on experiences this year, however, according to the report. And consumers were happy to take their time, according to a report from ChannelAdvisors that tracked same-store sales at many retailers into the third week of December.
That patience led to some heavy discounts and late packages. Workers were working well past Christmas Eve to get packages to consumers as a late surge in online orders overwhelmed FedEx’s system.
"This holiday season was a social one," MasterCard Advisors SVP Sarah Quinlan said in a statement. "While certain retail categories saw steady performance from prior months, the focus on creating experiences stayed at the top of many lists. From dining out to planning trips to memorable pieces of jewelry, we saw increases in those categories that will drive future stories beyond just a package exchanged with a friend or family member.”