Press Release

A Happy Holiday Season for Retailers: U.S. Retail Sales Rose 7.9% This Year

Per #SpendingPulse, eCommerce Sales Grew Roughly 20% Compared to 2014

December 28, 2015

By Julia Monti

Retailers rejoice! U.S. retail sales saw solid gains this holiday season. According to MasterCard SpendingPulse™, which looks at U.S. retail sales trends across cards, cash and checks, retail sales excluding auto and gas grew 7.9% during the traditional Black Friday to Christmas Eve shopping season. The biggest winners this season were eCommerce and furniture, with double-digit growth, while electronics and men's apparel lagged well behind.

Did eCommerce Save Christmas? For certain retailers, eCommerce sales were a big gift. eCommerce grew roughly 20% compared to last year. This is not a total surprise, as 70% of U.S. consumers report doing more research online than before, according to our recent Omnishopper Guide. Transitioning from research to a sale makes sense, if the proper customer experience and incentive — free or fast shipping, for instance — is in place.

Are Consumers Snuggled Up in Some New Duds? Yes. Overall, apparel saw high single-digit growth during the Black Friday to Christmas Eve window, whereas women's apparel sales rose double-digits. Men's apparel, on the other hand, declined. The delayed cold weather pushed back apparel buying this fall, so there was pent up demand that played out following Black Friday.

Did Gas Savings Fuel Spending? Yes. Overall retail sales, ex auto and gas, across all card and payment types, grew 4.6% from November through December compared to last year. Including gas, growth was just 2.7%, reflecting the lower gas prices and reinforcing the fact that consumers are spending the money they're saving at the pump.

"After a slow start, I'm very happy to see that the holiday season was hot for retailers," said Sarah Quinlan, SVP, Market Insights for MasterCard Advisors. "We saw some very promising trends. The double-digit growth in furniture sales, for instance, shows that consumers are willing and able to splurge on big ticket items. eCommerce's rise is a solid indication of an empowered and savvy shopper. We'll be watching to see if this behavior continues into 2016."

MasterCard SpendingPulse: SpendingPulse reports on national U.S. retail sales across all payments types. The findings are based on aggregate sales activity in the MasterCard payments network, coupled with survey-based estimates for certain other payment forms, such as cash and check. In addition to the United States, SpendingPulse is available in select markets around the world.

The Retail CMO's Guide to the Omnishopper: The Retail CMO's Guide to the Omnishopper blends insights from MasterCard transaction-based insights with a proprietary survey of omnishoppers conducted in nine markets: Brazil, China, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Poland, UAE, U.S. and U.K. The online survey of 11,337 people was conducted July 2015.

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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 reports and content, including estimated forecasts of spending trends, do not in any way contain, reflect or relate to actual MasterCard operational or financial performance, or specific payment—card-issuer data. MasterCard Advisors produces monthly SpendingPulse reports that are available to subscribers in the US, UK, Canada and Brazil, and are delivered ahead of retail spending figures provided by other sources.

About MasterCard Advisors
MasterCard Advisors, the professional services arm of MasterCard, provides clients around the world with insights and solutions that drive business impact and ROI. The company uses advanced analytics and deep payments expertise to translate data into actionable behavioral insights and customized services. With analyses based on more than 80 billion anonymous transactions processed in 210 countries worldwide, the company leverages aggregated information and a consultative approach to help financial institutions, merchants, media companies, governments and other organizations grow their businesses. 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 Pioneers Blog and subscribe for the latest news on the Engagement Bureau.

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