Year-end retail sales across all outlets in the U.S. rose a robust 4.9 percent compared to last year for the strongest holiday season since 2011..
Once again online retailers were the big winners with internet purchases climbing 18.1%, while consumer buying during the holidays set a record for total dollars spent, according to a report issued Tuesday by Mastercard SpendingPulse.
The holiday shopping season, from November 1st to December 24th, is a crucial period for all retailers, brick and mortar and online alike. For many firms those seven weeks can account for up to 40 percent of annual sales
The sales results were based on aggregate activity in the Mastercard payments system, combined with survey estimates for other types of payments, including credit cards, cash, gifts and checks, the report said. The data does not include vehicles.
Consumer and business confidence have been at or near record levels in the second half of this year with a strong job market, low inflation, repeated all-time highs in equity markets and now the prospect of tax-cuts all working to support consumption. Business investment has also turned higher to satisfy the expected gains in the 70 percent of U.S economic activity dependent on consumer spending.
In October, the National Retail Federation (NRF) had predicted that holiday sales would increase between 3.6 percent and 4 percent to a total of $678.75 billion to $682 billion. Last year total retail holiday expenditures were $655.8 billion.
On Tuesday, NRF CEO Matthew Shay said he expected the industry group's final retail information which will be released in early January would meet or exceed the October estimate.
Package delivery companies, in the U.S. the largest are United Parcel Service (UPS) and Federal Express (FedEx), have grown with the booming delivery volumes brought on in the past 15 years by the rise of the internet. They have invested billions of dollars to expand, upgrade and streamline their delivery services to handle surging e-commerce business, which has continued to advance each year.
UPS said it expects its global volue to increase 5.3 percent, by 40 million packages this year, to 750 million during the peak shipping season from the U.S. Thanksgiving holiday through New Year's Eve.
Salesforce Inc. Commerce Cloud, an e-commerce platform and technology service company, reported that mobile devices accounted for 68% of all site traffic and 50% of internet orders from November 21st through December 26th.
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