US holiday retail sales up 4.9 percent from 2016, MasterCard says
Photo by Shutterstock

US holiday retail sales up 4.9 percent from 2016, MasterCard says

December 27, 2017

The Raw Data

Unspun and unbiased. These are the facts.

Mastercard SpendingPulse said Tuesday that retail sales increased an estimated 4.9 percent between Nov. 1 and Dec. 24 compared to the same period last year. It was the largest year-over-year increase in holiday retail sales since 2011.

Online sales accounted for between 11 and 12 percent of all purchases during the period, according to Sarah Quinlan, a senior vice president at MasterCard. MasterCard estimated the figures based on its credit card activity in stores and online, and based on surveys of purchases made with other forms of payment.

The National Retail Federation, a trade association, said that its final holiday sales data, due in January, would meet or exceed its forecast of $678.8 to $682 billion for the holiday period.

The U.S. Department of Commerce is scheduled to release its fourth-quarter report on retail e-commerce on Feb. 16, 2018, and its December 2017 advanced monthly retail report on Jan. 12, 2018.

Factors contributing to retail spending

The Wall Street Journal cited analysts and economists saying that the increases in retail sales were due to high consumer confidence and a low unemployment rate.

The Consumer Confidence Index (CCI) was at a 17-year high of 129.5 in November, up from 107.1 last year. The CCI is a calculation that measures consumers’ perceptions of current business and employment conditions, and their expectations about business conditions, employment, and income for the next six months, according to its website. It is based on survey results collected by The Conference Board business group.

The U.S. unemployment rate was at a 17-year low of 4.1 percent in October and November.

Retail spending in 2017

Consumer credit card debt was $757 billion, an increase of 11 percent compared to last year, and its highest level since 2008, according to credit-reporting agency Experian PLC. Credit-card delinquency rates increased in the third quarter of this year.

Customer Growth Partners, a research firm, estimated that consumers will spend an additional $73 billion between Dec. 25 and Jan. 1.

Nearly 7,000 stores closed this year and bankruptcies increased 30 percent compared to last year, according to CNNMoney.

Sources: Bloomberg, CNN, The Wall Street Journal, USA Today