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MasterCard Spending Pulse: Luxury, jewelry and e-commerce enjoy strong gains in May


New York City -- Luxury, high-end jewelry and e-commerce enjoyed strong growth in May, as did the restaurant category, according to MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse, which tracks national retail and services sales. Apparel also continued to show gains, the report found, while housing-related sectors such as furniture, electronics and appliances all saw sales decline compared with the same period in 2010.

“Because the late Easter holiday boosted April’s year-over-year comparisons in some sectors, the May growth rates can look flattened by comparison, especially in apparel, luxury, and groceries where the growth rates were only about half what they were in April,” said Michael McNamara, VP research and analysis for MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse.

At the same time, McNamara added, jewelry had its best year/year rate in 2011, and unlike the mixed results in April, every sub-category of restaurants showed year-over-year growth in May.”

Here are some other findings from the latest MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse report:

  • E-commerce in May rose 15.9% for the seventh consecutive month of double-digit year-over-year growth and twenty-second straight month in positive territory; U.S. e-commerce was up 15.9% year-over-year. Many e-commerce sectors posted impressive growth, with online apparel sales gaining 19%, higher than the 17.9% growth rate observed in April.

  • Though noticeably smaller than April’s gains, total U.S. apparel sales in May recorded a 5.9% year-over-year increase, its eighteenth consecutive monthly gain. While some of this month’s performance can be attributed to the late Easter holiday boosting April sales, all of apparel’s sub-sectors recorded year-over-year sales growth in May. Family apparel posted modest year-over-year gains of 3.6%, its sixteenth positive out of the last 17 months. At 8.5%, footwear weighed in with its eighteenth consecutive month of positive year-over-year growth, with its May sales dollars being the second highest May dollar value in SpendingPulse history.

  • In its eighth consecutive month of year-over-year gains, the SpendingPulse Luxury Index (excluding jewelry) was up 4.7%, posting more modest results than in the first quarter of the year. The SpendingPulse Luxury category measures luxury sales at high-end restaurants, food stores, department stores and general apparel categories.

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