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Holiday retail sales rose in 2023

According to Mastercard SpendingPulse, overall U.S. retail sales increased 3.1% year-over-year during the holiday season.

In the end, shoppers provided retailers with a solid holiday season, with sales that met the low end of expectations. 

That's according to preliminary insights from Mastercard SpendingPulse, which said that overall U.S. retail sales increased 3.1% year-over-year during the holiday season (Nov. 1 through Dec. 24). The Mastercard findings, which exclude auto sales, measure in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment and are not adjusted for inflation. The National Retail Federation had projected 3% to 4% year-over-year growth in sales during November and December. And in September, Mastercard forecasted that holiday sales would rise 3.7%.

Online retail sales increased 6.3%, while in-store sales were up 2.2%, reported Mastercard. The company noted that while spending online is increasing at a faster pace than in-store, "therefore taking a growing slice of the retail pie,"  shopping in-store still makes up a considerably larger portion of total retail spending.

[Read more: Online grocery sales reach $8B in November]


Apparel was one of the top categories for holiday shoppers, with the sector up 2.4% year-over-year, the Mastercard data indicated. Grocery sales rose 2.1%. The restaurant sector was up a strong 7.8%.

Electronics and jewelry were the only categories that saw year-over-year decreases, down 0.4% and 2.0% respectively.

“This holiday season, the consumer showed up, spending in a deliberate manner,” said Michelle Meyer, chief economist at Mastercard Economics Institute. “The economic backdrop remains favorable with healthy job creation and easing inflation pressures, empowering consumers to seek the goods and experiences they value most.”

Retailers were helped this year by the fact that Christmas fell on a Monday, giving consumers an entire weekend to do last-minute holiday shopping. Nearly 142 million consumers said they planned to shop on Dec. 23, "Super Saturday, according to the NRF. Customer Growth Partners said that Super Saturday sales totaled $47 billion, well exceeding Black Friday. 

[Read more: Retail predictions for the new year]


In addition, retailers started their holiday promotions and deals as early as October this year. Some of Walmart’s holiday offerings kicked in on Saturday, Oct. 1. And Target kicked off its Black Friday promotion in late October,

“Retailers started promotions early this season, giving consumers time to hunt for the best deals and promotions,” said Steve Sadove, senior advisor for Mastercard and former CEO and chairman of Saks Incorporated. “Ultimately it was about getting the most bang for your buck as consumers spent on a variety of goods and services, resurfacing spending trends from before the pandemic.”

This story originally appeared on Chain Store Age

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