The US retail industry recorded its strongest holiday shopping season in six years, according to a report by Mastercard SpendingPulse. Retail sales in the US during the period from November 1 to December 24 grew 5.1% to more than $850 billion, covering both in-store and online sales.
E-commerce saw solid growth during the holidays, with online sales improving 19.1% from last year. Based on data from Reuters, the National Retail Federation had projected holiday retail sales in the US to rise between 4.3% and 4.8% in November and December.
The increase in wages and declines in unemployment rates appear to be fuelling consumer confidence and the stock market volatility, partial government shutdown and concerns over economic weakness do not seem to have dented the sentiment at all.
The apparel and home improvement sectors saw the highest growth during the holiday period with apparel rising around 8% and home improvement growing 9%. The electronics and appliances sector saw a 0.7% drop in sales.
Department stores saw a 1.3% drop in sales, mainly due to store closures, but their online sales grew over 10% in the holiday season. Several leading retailers have invested in their ecommerce capabilities but the majority of online sales continue to be captured by Amazon (AMZN). The online retailer had a record-breaking holiday season, with its orders hitting a new peak.
As of 3:00 pm ET, Amazon’s stock was up 7.4% while Walmart’s (WMT) shares were up 3.8%. Target’s (TGT) stock was up 4.4% and Kohl’s (KSS) shares were up 8.8%. Lululemon’s (LULU) shares were up 6.6%, Nike’s (NKE) stock was up 5.3% and Macy’s (M) shares were up 4.7%.
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