Press Release

SpendingPulse™ 2012 Holiday Full-Season Holiday Report: Key Holiday Categories in Slight Year-over-Year Gain: 0.7%

2012 Season Slowed Down By a Combination of Headwinds

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December 26, 2012

A SpendingPulse™ report released today by MasterCard Advisors, the professional services arm of MasterCard (NYSE:MA) provided summary results for the full 2012 season in the key holiday retail categories. During the period October 30 to December 24, U.S. consumers increased their spending by 0.7%. Last year, during a similar period measured, sales grew by 2% year-over-year. Sub-sectors measured are Apparel, Electronics, Online, Luxury, Jewelry and Furnishings. These represent about 30-35% of total U.S. retail spending ex-auto. Food, fuel and other significant retail categories are not included in the SpendingPulse Holiday Index.

"The 2012 holiday shopping season experienced only marginal growth when compared to the 2011 season. The Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and North Central regions of the country all lagged the national average growth, while the Southern and western regions of the country experienced more positive Holiday shopping seasons. You really did have two kinds of results, depending on the region -- one had a relatively negative season, while the other was more in line with the lower end of expectations. And between the two, even with all the negative headwinds, the country managed to gain slightly over last year," notes Michael McNamara, Global Solutions Leader, MasterCard SpendingPulse.

SpendingPulse noted that the season had a distinctly different pattern to prior holiday seasons. It had a difficult start, coinciding with Hurricane Sandy. The first two weeks of November were negative as the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic regions experienced substantial declines in holiday related categories. There was a recovery in sales growth during the second two weeks of November, when promotional activity both online and in brick and mortar stores helped stimulate growth. During this time, online sales growth returned to double digits during the second half of November. However, growth subsided in the first half of December with several areas returning to negative growth vs. early December 2011. Observed McNamara, "While in most years, there is a similar soft patch in the first half of December, this year's "soft patch" was weaker than usual." Finally sales improved again for the final stretch run, but again, disruptive weather conditions may have limited overall sales growth. One more positive outcome is that the large winter storm impacting the Northern regions of the country during the last week of the season could have benefitted the growth of online sales.

Notes McNamara, "Outside of Hurricane Sandy's impact zone, the holiday season was definitely positive and more in line with expectations. But given that the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions account for about 24% of total U.S. retail, if those regions go negative, they definitely have an impact on the overall numbers."

About MasterCard SpendingPulse
A macro-economic indicator, MasterCard SpendingPulse reports on national retail sales and is based on aggregate sales activity in the MasterCard payments network, coupled with estimates for all other payment forms, including cash and check. MasterCard SpendingPulse does not represent MasterCard financial performance. SpendingPulse is provided by MasterCard Advisors, the professional services arm of MasterCard Worldwide.

About MasterCard Advisors
As the professional services arm of MasterCard Worldwide, MasterCard Advisors is uniquely qualified to provide clients with insights and solutions that drive tangible impact and financial gain. MasterCard Advisors provides payments consulting, information, analytics, and customized services that deliver value to its customers. In doing so, the company uses information to create products and services in which privacy and security are fundamental to their design. A technology company that is an electronic payments leader, MasterCard is committed to the responsible use of information and pledges strong privacy protection for the transaction data the company processes. Its information management practices support the company’s mission to make payments safe, simple and smart. For more information, go to

About MasterCard
MasterCard (NYSE: MA),, is a global payments and technology company. It operates the world's fastest payments processing network, connecting consumers, financial institutions, merchants, governments and businesses in more than 210 countries and territories. MasterCard's products and solutions make everyday commerce activities -- such as shopping, traveling, running a business and managing finances -- easier, more secure and more efficient for everyone. Follow us on Twitter @MasterCardNews, join the discussion on the Cashless Conversations Blog and subscribe for the latest news.

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