Late shopping surge boosts holiday sales for retailers

A late surge in shopping and pent-up demand for women’s clothing gave a boost to holiday sales, according to early spending figures.

U.S. retail sales rose 7.9 percent between Black Friday and Christmas Eve, excluding cars and gas, with women’s apparel and furniture seeing the biggest gains, according to figures from MasterCard Advisors. For all of November and December, sales were up 4.6 percent — slightly better than expected.

The figures indicate that consumers are starting to feel more confident and buying big-ticket items such as new sofas, said Sarah Quinlan, senior vice president of market insights for MasterCard. They’re also tapping the extra cash they’ve gained from cheap gas prices. Consumers spent 72 cents of every dollar they saved from lower fuel costs, MasterCard found.

Cooling temperatures in many parts of the country probably helped drive a double-digit sales increase in women’s clothing, which has been selling poorly for the past six months, Quinlan said.

Read more from Bloomberg


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