Holiday Sales Takeaway: 'The Consumer Showed Up'

Sales were up 3.1% in November and December
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 26, 2023 11:55 AM CST
Holiday Sales Takeaway: 'The Consumer Showed Up'
"Santa" purchases a cup of coffee from the Creme Coffee in Owensboro, Kentucky.   (Greg Eans/The Messenger-Inquirer via AP)

The holiday shopping season is in the books, and retailers will likely be relieved, the New York Times reports. Retail sales were up 3.1% compared to last year between Nov. 1 and Dec. 24, according to stats released by Mastercard SpendingPulse. "This holiday season, the consumer showed up, spending in a deliberate manner" is how Michelle Meyer, chief economist at the Mastercard Economics Institute, put it, per MarketWatch. Restaurants saw the biggest uptick, at 7.8%, followed by apparel (2.4%) and grocery (2.1%). However, jewelry and electronic sales both dipped, by 2% and 0.4%, respectively.

"Consumers are still spending, but they're still price conscious and want to stretch their budgets," Arun Sundaram of CFRA Research tells Reuters. Generally, shoppers used the sales of Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Super Saturday (the Saturday before Christmas), he said, though discounts weren't as large as last year, when companies had huge backlogs of goods because of the pandemic. This year, online sales rose 6.3% and in-store sales 2.2%, according to Mastercard. The Times' main takeaway: "The holiday sales figures, driven by a healthy labor market and wage gains, [suggest] that the economy remains strong." (More holiday shopping stories.)

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