Strong Retail Sales for the Holiday Season

Retail sales from the period of November 1 through Christmas Eve were up 4.9 percent from last year, indicating the highest growth rate since 2011.

Online sales, which were up 18.1 percent for the season, contributed to the large growth in total retail sales. Last minute shopping options like one-day and same-day shipping have become increasingly available. Retailers have also increased efficiency and ease with their in-store pickup availability.

"This year was a big win for retail," Sarah Quinlan, senior vice president of market insights at Mastercard, said in a statement. "The strong US economy was a contributing factor, but we also have to recognize that retailers who tried new strategies to engage holiday shoppers were the beneficiaries of this sales increase."

Black Friday and December 23 were the biggest days in terms of spending. Mastercard saw "significant jumps" in the first three weeks of the month, according to a press release from the company. Online sales from November 1 through 22 totaled almost $30.4 billion this year, accounting for nearly 18% year-over-year growth.

Electronics and appliances saw a 7.5% jump in sales, boosted by a growth in smart home products like the Amazon Echo and Google Home, according to Mastercard. That's the largest increase in electronics sales in a decade.

Home furnishings and home improvement saw a 5.1% increase in sales. Apparel sales grew only 2.7%, and women's clothing sales were flat. Last-minute shoppers flocked to jewelry stores, and sales of jewelry were up 5.9%.

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