(Reuters) – Retail sales in the United States rose 3% during this year’s expanded holiday shopping season from October 11 to December 24, boosted by a pandemic-driven shift toward online shopping, a report released by Mastercard said on Saturday.
US e-commerce sales jumped 49% in this year’s holiday shopping season, according to a Mastercard SpendingPulse report, underscoring the role of the COVID-19 pandemic in transforming customers’ shopping habits.
The data showed that holiday e-commerce sales accounted for 19.7% of total retail sales this year, indicating that options such as online purchase, in-store pickup, and contactless technologies were staple for retailers.
The holiday shopping season can account for the majority of annual sales for some retailers, but the health crisis has meant that many retailers including Walmart Inc and Target Corp, who have faced capacity restrictions at some stores, rolled out their promotions early.
E-commerce giant Amazon.com also postponed its annual summer promotional event to October, marking a longer holiday season than ever for retailers who missed sales for several weeks during closings earlier this year.
“This has been a much healthier holiday season than many expected,” Steve Sadoff, chief adviser to MasterCard, told Reuters in an interview.
Sadove believes the digital trend will continue to grow in 2021, as smaller retailers also adopt new technology to provide customers with new ways to shop.
People who spend more time at home due to work from home and remote learning policies have increased demand for home decor and home improvement products, with retail sales in the furniture and home furnishing category jumping 16.2% according to the report.
Electronics and appliances also increased by 6% during the period, as declines in spending on dining out, travel and entertainment encouraged shoppers to make other purchases.
Sales of apparel and jewelry generally declined, but e-commerce sales were up 15.7% and 44.6%.
The SpendingPulse report tracks spending by combining sales activity in the Mastercard payments network with cash estimates and other forms of payment but excludes auto sales.
Covered by Praveen Paramasivam, Nivdita Paloo, and Anirud Saligrama in Bengaluru; Edited by Praveen Schar and Alexandra Hudson