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Mastercard: Retail sales strong in December, capping robust holiday season

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Total U.S. retail sales (excluding auto and gas) rose nearly 7% in December.

Retail sales in December closed out the year on a high note.

Total U.S. retail sales (excluding auto and gas) rose 6.9% in December compared to the year-ago period and increased 8.1% versus pre-pandemic December 2019, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse, which measures in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment. E-commerce sales rose 13.5% in December compared to last year and increased 60.4% compared to 2019.  Last week, Mastercard reported that holiday retail sales grew 8.5% excluding auto.

Here is a breakdown of sales by sector.

• Apparel sales rose 46.3% year-over-year and 22.6% compared to 2019 (or YO2Y). 

• Department store sales rose 19.1% YOY and 15.3% YO2Y.

• Electronics and appliance sales increased 16% YOY and 17.6% YO2Y.

• Grocery sales rose 8.3% YOY and 16.9% YO2Y.

• Jewelry sales rose 31% YOY and 27% YO2Y.

• Luxury (excluding jewelry) rose 46.8% YOY and 20.7% YO2Y.

• Restaurant sales rose 51.9% YOU and 21.1% YO2Y.

Mastercard listed a number of trends to watch as 2022 kicks off. As detailed in the  Mastercard report, these trends include:

  • Buying with a Purpose: Consumers are looking for retailers that share their values, creating and delivering products in a sustainable and inclusive way. Across the world, 85% of adults say they’re willing to take personal action to combat environmental and sustainability challenges. And 62% say it’s now more important that companies behave in sustainable and eco-friendly way.
  • Commerce “E-volution”: Retailers and brands spent much of the pandemic shifting or expanding their digital channels, which we see reflected in the SpendingPulse figures, as online sales continued to experience strong growth in December (up 13.5% year-over-year, and up 60.4% YO2Y). In 2022, innovation will be amplified with retailers looking at different platforms and tactics to reach hyper-connected consumers.
  • Experiential Retail: Innovation has been vital as retailers started to think of their digital and physical stores more cohesively than distinctly separate channels. This trend brought us “phygital” innovation in how retailers engage with customers digitally and in person. We expect the ability to make purchases “how I want” will continue, requiring retailers to offer hybrid models, according to a Mastercard consumer impact study.
  • Consumer Privacy Gets Real: The demand for personalized experience must be met by a heightened focus on consumer privacy. Retailers will need to find new ways to understand and engage their digital consumers effectively.
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