As the first of many holiday season sales results come in, it appears e-Commerce continues to be a chief driver of overall retail revenue growth. Holiday retail sales increased 3.4%, excluding automobile sales, with online sales growing 18.8% compared to 2018, according to the Mastercard 2019 SpendingPulse Holiday Report. The online sales increase is up from the 18.4% growth rate last year.
In-store sales for holiday 2019 grew a paltry 1.2%, as digital’s 14.6% share of total sales was a new high, according to Mastercard.
E-Commerce holiday sales buoyed various retail sectors. While apparel only saw 1% growth in total sales throughout the season, e-Commerce growth within the category jumped 17%. On a similar note, jewelry experienced 1.8% total salesgrowth, while online sales jumped 8.8%. And although department stores continue their overall sales decline (1.8%), online sales saw a bump of 6.9%.
Thanksgiving, which traditionally starts the U.S. holiday shopping season, was on Nov. 28, nearly a week later than last year’s Nov. 22, leaving retailers with six fewer days to drive sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
“Due to a later-than-usual Thanksgiving holiday, we saw retailers offering omnichannel sales earlier in the season, meeting consumers’ demand for the best deals across all channels and devices,” said Steve Sadove, Senior Advisor for Mastercard and former CEO and Chairman of Saks Incorporated in a statement.
Despite fewer days for customer spending, the overall holiday sales growth actually outpaced Mastercard’s initial growth estimate of 3.1%, predicted in early November.
The National Retail Federation had forecast U.S. holiday retail sales over the two months to increase between 3.8% and 4.2%. That compares with an average annual increase of 3.7% over the past five years.
The Mastercard SpendingPulse report tracks spending from Nov. 1 to Dec. 24 by combining sales activity in Mastercard’s payments network with estimates of cash and other payment forms. The report excludes automobile sales.