Retail sales jumped 7.6% during the critical holiday season that runs from Nov. 1 to Christmas Eve, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse, which tracks sales across all payment types.
Americans chose to eat out during the holidays, with restaurant spending up 15.1% over the same time frame in 2021. Clothing rose 4.4%, while in-store sales rose 6.8% and online sales rose 10.6%.
Electronic and jewelry fell 5.3% and 5.4% respectively.
“This holiday retail season looked different than years past,” Steve Sadove, a senior adviser at Mastercard and former CEO of Saks Incorporated, said in a statement. “Retailers discounted heavily but consumers diversified their holiday spending to accommodate rising prices and an appetite for experiences and festive gatherings post-pandemic.”
The 7.6% increase marked a slower pace than the 8.5% increase in 2021, but it was higher than MasterCard’s expected 7.1% rate.
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Mastercard SpendingPulse measures online and in-store sales across all payments excluding the automotive industry and is not adjusted for inflation, which has weighed on consumers this year.
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Inflation hit 7.1% last month, down from the high for the year of 9.1% in June but still three times higher than the pre-pandemic average.
“Inflation altered the way U.S. consumers approached their holiday shopping – from hunting for the best deals to making trade-offs that stretched gift-giving budgets,” Michelle Meyer, North America chief economist for the Mastercard Economics Institute, said in a statement.