Holiday sales rise 7.6% as consumers return to pre-pandemic activities

The news: US retail sales (excluding automotive) grew 7.6% year over year (YoY) from November 1 to Christmas Eve, per Mastercard SpendingPulse—which measures in-store and online retail sales including fuel, grocery, and restaurants. The numbers are not adjusted, which suggests spending slightly outpaced inflation.

  • While that’s a far cry from the 15.4% YoY increase in the final two months of last year, it was markedly higher than the 3.9% sales growth in 2019.
  • That said, the results reflect a complicated picture in which consumers adjusted their spending patterns due to inflation and pent-up demand for pre-pandemic activities like dining out. For example, spending on restaurants rose 15.1% YoY during the period, while apparel sales rose just 4.4% and electronics sales fell 5.3%.