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Online sales make up a larger portion of overall sales again

More people did their shopping online this year during one of the shortest holiday shopping seasons in years, helping to push total sales higher.

Retail sales in the U.S. rose 3.4 percent between Nov. 1 and Dec. 24 compared with last year, according to early data from Mastercard SpendingPulse.

Online sales rose at a faster pace, up 18.8 percent from last year. Online shopping made up nearly 15 percent of total retail sales.

Mastercard SpendingPulse tracked spending online and in stores across all payment types, including those who paid by cash or check. Sales of automobiles are not included.

Faced with the shortest holiday shopping season since 2013, stores were trumpeting deals even before Halloween with hopes of getting people to think about Christmas.

Thanksgiving landed on Nov. 28 this year, the latest possible date it could fall. That meant six fewer days than last year, forcing last-minute shoppers to scramble. The Saturday before Christmas was the busiest shopping day in U.S. history, surpassing Black Friday, according to research firm Customer Growth Partners.

Clothing sales rose 1 percent, Mastercard said. Jewelry sales increased 1.8 percent. Sales of electronics and appliances rose 4.6 percent. And furniture sales grew 1.3 percent.

Department stores, which have been hit hard by the rise of online shopping, still had trouble getting shoppers in their doors: total sales fell 1.8 percent, Mastercard said.

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