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.
Shifting spending patterns: There are several ways that this holiday season was different from years past.
A complicated picture: Several economic indicators suggested US households headed into the holiday season in a good position to spend. US consumer paychecks ticked up, gas prices fell, and inflation eased more than expected in November.
The big takeaway: Pulling the holiday season earlier than ever had some clear benefits—it let retailers like Amazon and Walmart capture sales while also smoothing out the flood of holiday purchases that typically requires companies like UPS and FedEx to boost their delivery capacity. However, there are clear signs that the headwinds retailers faced are unlikely to recede anytime soon.
This article originally appeared in Insider Intelligence's Retail & Ecommerce Briefing—a daily recap of top stories reshaping the retail industry. Subscribe to have more hard-hitting takeaways delivered to your inbox daily.
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