Retail sales rose a modest 3% during a longer holiday season this year as home shoppers spent more on furniture and food but less on clothing and jewelry, according to figures released by a company on Saturday. that tracks all forms of payment.
The increase fell short of forecasts from the National Retail Federation, the nation’s largest retail group, which expected sales to increase between 3.6% and 5.2% this year compared to 2019.
The holiday shopping season was considered longer this year as retailers offered promotions earlier and encouraged customers to get off to a good start to avoid delivery delays. During the traditional holiday season, between November 1 and December 24, retail sales increased 2.4% year-over-year, according to data from Mastercard.
Steve Sadove, senior advisor to Mastercard and former CEO and chairman of Saks Incorporated, said the surge in online spending and early purchases were “a testament to the holiday season and the strength of retailers and consumers.”
Sales at Holiday department stores fell 10.2% year-over-year, according to Mastercard. Spending on clothing plunged 19.1% and jewelry sales 2.3%.
Instead, buyers invested in their home. Furniture and fixtures sales rose 16.2%, while spending on home renovations rose 14.1%. Consumers also favored electronics and home appliances, a category where sales rose 6%.
Clothing stores and specialty retailers have offered big discounts and encouraged curb pickup in hopes of saving the holiday season and surviving a tough year. According to Mastercard, online clothing sales rose 15.7%. Department store e-commerce sales also rose 3.3%.