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Holiday retail sales projected to grow 7.4%

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MasterCard SpendingPulse reports on retail sales across all payment types and includes survey-based estimates.

PURCHASE, N.Y. – U.S. retail sales should hit an all-time high this holiday season, with consumer spending between November 1 and Christmas Eve increasing 7.4% from a year earlier, according to a forecast released today from Mastercard SpendingPulse.

Holiday Spending PulseThe forecast –- which doesn’t include a dollar projection and excludes automotive spending – foresees this year’s sales rising 11.1% from the 2019 holiday season.

This year’s spending will be heavily influenced by pent-up savings and government stimulus, according to the forecast. The latest government figures show that the U.S. economy, as measured by gross domestic product, grew 1.6% in the second quarter, with vaccinations and federal aid fueling a surge in consumer spending.

In reporting second-quarter economic numbers, the Commerce Department said personal income after taxes was 6.4% above its pre-pandemic level after adjusting for inflation. And Americans were collectively sitting on trillions more in savings than they had before the pandemic.

“This holiday season will be defined by early shopping, bigger price tags and digital experiences. Over the past two years, retailers have learned a lot about what shoppers want and need, bringing us into an exciting new age of retail resilience,” Steve Sadove, senior advisor for Mastercard Inc., said in a statement. “Retailers have been preparing for this moment and will find innovative ways to deliver on what’s bound to be the biggest holiday shopping season yet.”

Mastercard SpendingPulse identifies overarching trends to watch:

  • Early season’s greetings: With potential supply chain and labor supply issues impacting the season, retailers are expected to offer omnichannel promotions early on – particularly in the heavily gifted electronics, apparel and department store categories. Technologies like contactless shopping and buy-online-pick-up-in-store will continue to be embraced by consumers and retailers.
  • ‘Tis the season for splurging: Consumers have the desire and the means to spend. Over the last six months, the luxury retail and jewelry sectors have been experiencing dynamic gains, which are projected to continue through the holidays.
  • Shoppers return to stores: Nothing says holiday cheer like busy malls and bustling Main Streets. While we anticipate that the return to in-store browsing and shopping will continue, e-commerce retail sales are not going anywhere. For the extended holiday season, e-commerce sales are expected to grow 7.5% year on year 59.3% from 2019 levels, representing a record high for the channel.

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