Holiday Retail Sales Up 2.4%

Retail sales for the holiday season, spanning from Nov. 23 till Dec. 24, rose by a seasonally adjusted 3.6 percent over the same period a year ago, according to MasterCard SpendingPulse. However, factoring out spending on gasoline—which saw an average price increase of 27 percent since this time last year—retail sales increased 2.4 percent.

With the exception of jewelry, the luxury category showed strength with a 7.1 percent increase in sales, excluding jewelry, according to SpendingPulse, a division of MasterCard Advisors, which tracks national retail sales. When including jewelry, the luxury category declined 1.9 percent.

The strongest sales category, according to SpendingPulse, was e-commerce, which increased 22.4 percent year-over-year.

Procrastinating shoppers in the final weekend before Christmas fueled an 18.7 percent sales gain over the same weekend last year, according to ShopperTrak RCT Corp., which tracks sales in retail outlets nationwide.

SpendingPulse said the apparel category rose a seasonally adjusted 1.4 percent overall, with a 2.3 percent increase in men’s apparel sales and 6 percent growth in footwear offset a 2.4 percent decline in women’s apparel.

Meanwhile, International Council of Shopping CentersUBS Retail Chain Store Sales Index rose by 2.8 percent in the week to Dec. 22 from its level a week before, on a seasonally adjusted, same-store basis. The index rose 1.4 percent the week prior. Retailers saw sales increase by 2.8 percent last week on a year-to-year basis, compared with a rise of 2.1 percent the prior week.