2020 Holiday Shopping Sales Grow Despite Shorter Selling Season

Ivana V. Image
ByIvana V.
December 26,2019
US consumers increased holiday spending again this year despite a shorter holiday shopping season.

That’s the bottom line from credit card company Mastercard.

The holiday shopping season was short this year because Thanksgiving came on November 28. Black Friday, the day that traditionally kicks off holiday shopping, came the next day. That gave consumers six fewer shopping days before Christmas than last year. Even so, they managed to drive holiday spending numbers up.

A Mastercard report based on retail sales data collected between November 1 and Christmas Eve 2019 reveals that eCommerce sales grew by 18.8% compared to the same period last year. Online shopping made up 14.6% of total retail sales.

Excluding autos, overall holiday retail sales increased by 3.4%.

"eCommerce sales hit a record high this year with more people doing their holiday shopping online," Mastercard senior adviser Steve Sadove said in a statement. "Due to a later than usual Thanksgiving holiday, we saw retailers offering omnichannel sales earlier in the season, meeting consumers' demand for the best deals across all channels and devices."

Retailers, who make as much as 40% of their annual sales during the holidays, have made significant investments to reach the high customer-service bar set by retail giant Amazon. Same-day delivery, lockers for store pick-up, and better online presence are the latest trends many retailers are trying to follow.

President Donald Trump boasted about the 3.4% gain in a tweet: "2019 HOLIDAY RETAIL SALES WERE UP 3.4% FROM LAST YEAR, THE BIGGEST NUMBER IN US HISTORY. CONGRATULATIONS AMERICA!"

Trump, whose 2020 electoral campaign focuses on the economic gains achieved during his presidency, referred to the retail sales increase as unprecedented.

That claim was refuted by Mastercard spokesperson Willian Tsang, who noted in a Reuters interview that 2018 saw a 5.1% increase in retail sales over 2017.

The White House did not provide an immediate comment on the discrepancy.

About the author

Ivana is a staff writer at SmallBizGenius. Her interests during office hours include writing about small businesses, start-ups, and retail. When the weekend comes, you can find her hiking in nature, hanging off of a cliff or dancing salsa.

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