Holiday Sales Rise On Discounts

2013 Growth Biggest Jump In Last 3 Years

Holiday SalesMore promotions and heavy discounting pushed holiday retail sales higher this year, according to data from the most recent MasterCard Advisors’ SpendingPulse report. Between November 1 and December 24, sales increased 3.5%, which is a significant rise over the 0.7% gain recorded during the holiday season in 2012. The 2013 growth was the biggest jump in the last three years.

“Holiday sales were a clear improvement over last year’s weaker numbers,” said Sarah Quinlan, a senior vice president at MasterCard Advisors. “One clear bright spot is that many consumers who were stuck indoors turned to online shopping to check items off their list and that helped drive e-commerce growth.”

Jewelry was the best-performing category, while apparel sales grew modestly. Consumers spent less than forecasted, though, on electronics and luxury items, the report showed. MasterCard Advisors also said larger retailers performed slightly better than smaller companies this holiday season.

In separate findings released by tracking firm comScore, online holiday sales increased 10% this season, led by Amazon, which sold more than 36.8 million items worldwide on Cyber Monday alone. Across all retail websites, mobile devices made up a record 48% of online traffic this year – a 28.3% rise over 2012. Tablet users, on average, spent $98.61 per order, while smartphone users spent $85.11.

Meanwhile, brick and mortar stores were hurt by less customer traffic, as U.S. store visits dropped 21% through December 21, ShopperTrak reported. RetailNext estimated that in-store holiday sales declined the weekend before Christmas, leading analysts to predict retailers will continue discounting into the New Year.