The Mastercard Spending Pulse reports that overall retail sales Nov. 1-Christmas Eve grew by 4.9% compared to last year.

Last-minute holiday shoppers helped propel online sales to grow by 18% year over year in 2017.

Data released the day after Christmas from the Mastercard Spending Pulse shows that online sales during the holiday shopping season, defined as Nov. 1-Christmas Eve, grew by 18.1% in the U.S. in 2017 compared with the same time period in 2016. Overall retail sales, which includes online and physical storefronts, were up by a record-setting 4.9% year over year. MasterCard writes in its report that overall retail sales on Dec. 23 were comparable to those on Black Friday, which contributed to strong year-over-year sales gains both online and total sales. Mastercard bases its findings on transactions made across its payment network.

“Overall, this year was a big win for retail,” said Sarah Quinlan, Mastercard senior vice president of market insights. “The strong U.S. economy was a contributing factor, but we also have to recognize that retailers who tried new strategies to engage holiday shoppers were the beneficiaries of this sales increase.” Quinlan did not mention which new strategies proved to be particularly effective.

In other holiday retail news:

  • UPS Inc. reports that shoppers have returned more than 1 million packages to retailers every day in December so far. UPS predicts Jan. 3 will be the busiest day for returns to be shipped to retailers. Shoppers are expected to ship a record-setting 1.4 million items back to retailers on Jan. 3, which would be an 8% year-over-year growth compared with the busiest day for online returns the previous year. Overall, UPS projects it will deliver 750 million packages from Thanksgiving (Nov. 23) through Dec. 31 this year, up more than 5% compared with last year.
  • E-commerce platform and technology service provider Salesforce Inc. Commerce Cloud reports that mobile accounted for 68% of all traffic and 50% of orders placed online from Nov. 21-Dec. 26. Salesforce bases its data off of 2,750 e-commerce sites and 350 million shoppers in 53 countries.
  • Online marketing service provider Rakuten Marketing reported that shoppers spent more on mobile devices during the first half of December than they did during the same time last year. Overall revenue generated by its U.S. retail clients on mobile devices grew by 67% year over year during the period from Dec. 1-15. The average value of orders placed on mobile devices grew by 5% year over year during this period. Overall online sales increased 16% for Rakuten clients from Dec. 1-15 across all devices combined. Rakuten bases its estimates on data taken from retailers utilizing its Rakuten Marketing Display campaigns.
  • U.K.-based online beauty retailer Feelunique reported overall sales during the holiday shopping season, which it defines as Nov. 20-Dec. 20, increased 33% year over year to 12.5 million pounds ($16.7 million). Feelunique is No. 243 in the Internet Retailer 2017 Europe 500.
  • Cybersecurity firm Namogoo reports that mobile devices accounted for 52% of online retail traffic and 35% of all orders placed from Nov. 23-Dec. 23. Namogoo analyzed nearly 1 billion web sessions during that time frame to come up with its data. Namogoo also reports that retail conversion rates were 34% higher during the Nov. 23-Dec. 23 period than they were during the previous 30-day period.
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