The Christmas shopping season is now officially behind us and the official numbers for 2018 have been crunched. To the surprise of many of the experts, 2018 did not prove to be the selling season that had been expected. In fact, 2018 was the best holiday selling season in six years, with sales up an estimated 5.1%.
In a report issued by Mastercard, consumers were rallied to purchase by a combination of a robust economy and a multitude of early holiday discounts. The data used to determine the increase in sales was collected between November 1st and December 24th, 2018. The National Retail Federation had initial estimates this year’s holiday sales to rise 4.3 percent to 4.5 percent between the months of November and December. However, those numbers were more than surpassed, which resulted in an estimated $850 billion more spent by consumers this year.
Steve Sadove, senior adviser for Mastercard stated:
“From shopping aisles to online carts, consumer confidence translated into holiday cheer for retail.”
The increase in holiday sales this shopping season can be attributed to lower unemployment rates and increased wages, which actually hit their best in October—the best in nearly two decades. Studies also show that the recent market lows and slowing in global growth did nothing to deter the consumer from their holiday purchasing.
Another added incentive is that Christmas fell on a Tuesday this year, which gave shoppers a whole extra weekend and day for shopping. Even online global juggernaut Amazon stated they had a “record-breaking holiday” with a billion orders shipped free through their Prime service within the United States alone.
When looking at how the sales were distributed, it appears that department store sales dropped 1.3 percent, following two years of a less than 2 percent growth. Many analysts attribute this number to the closing of many storefronts, lessening the choices of stores to shop at. Most notable is that sales of electronics and appliances actually dipped this year by 0.7 percent, following a 7.5 percent rise in sales last year.