Santa was apparently good to DeSoto County shoppers and retailers alike this Christmas holiday season, if early national indications and trends are correct.
Whether it be through walking into a store or through purchases via the internet, early reports from across the nation saw a welcome increase in retail sales during the 2017 holiday shopping season, a healthy finish to a year that saw several stores close in various parts of America.
A report from Mastercard SpendingPulse out Tuesday measured an increase of 4.9 percent in holiday purchases, which set a new record for dollars spent, according to the credit card provider.
The report, while issued shortly after the completion of the holiday shopping season, is considered a good barometer of how sales actually went inside national retailers of all types, except for automotive sales.
The figure takes into account all purchases made at several levels, including cash, check, and the plastic.
The 4.9 percent hike is the largest year-over-year increase since 2011.
Not only did storefront sales appear to increase, the Mastercard report states that online purchases also rose with a gain of 18.1 percent over 2016, a result boosted by a late season rally.
Many shoppers did choose to go the online route, according to another annual report from the accounting and professional services organization Deloitte, which stated that 51 percent of a shopper’s budget was typically spent in online sales.
Seniors and baby boomers were most likely to step inside a store to buy, as 46 percent of their holiday shopping budgets were spent inside brick-and-mortar sales locations.
Sales tracked by Mastercard were for the period from Nov. 1-Dec. 24.
Shoppers were apparently most interested in items for the home. The Mastercard report recorded increases of 7.5 percent in electronics and appliance purchases, its strongest growth in 10 years. Home furniture, furnishings and home improvement areas grew by 5.1 percent.
Other highlights of the report had moderate gains in specialty apparel and department stores, which was impressive due to recent store closings in several parts of the country. Early season promotions bolstered sales for the first part of the Christmas shopping season, with significant improvements in the first three weeks of November.
Late season shoppers also were busy just before Santa arrived, because Dec. 23 rivaled Black Friday in terms of single-day spending. Last minute sales of jewelry helped that category grow by 5.9 percent for the holiday period, according to Mastercard.
“Evolving consumer preferences continue to play out in the aisles and online sites of retailers across the U.S.,” said Sarah Quinlan of Mastercard. “Overall, this was a big win for retailers. Retailers who tried new strategies to engage holiday shoppers were the beneficiaries of this sales increase.”
Bob Bakken is Staff Writer and may be reached at 662-429-6397 ext. 240.