MasterCard: Holiday e-comm spending sees double-digit growth

Consumer e-commerce spending is up by double digits so far this holiday shopping season, according to data from MasterCard Advisors, the financial giant’s consulting and analytics division.  

Online shopping sales are up 13.5% year-over-year this holiday shopping season, said Michael McNamara, VP of MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse.

“E-commerce has been a key story,” he said, in a video.

Free shipping, discounts and other promotions are driving the increase, said Mike Berry, director of industry research at MasterCard Advisors. “That is a continuation of the trend we saw for the Monday after Thanksgiving. That day, online sales were up 18.3% over the same Monday after Black Friday in 2009,” he said. Berry added that online sales were up 17.2% for the full week after Black Friday.

Many online holiday promotions started the second week of November, making for a longer online shopping season this year, noted McNamara. The continuing shift of retail market share from bricks-and-mortar stores to e-tailers “has really driven some of the growth rates this year,” he said.

Consumer spending through December 11 is growing at a faster rate than the modest year-over-year increase seen during the back-to-school shopping season, according to MasterCard. Some segments, such as electronics and appliances, are flat due to falling prices for big-screen TVs and other big-ticket items, but others, such as e-commerce, are up significantly.

Several key sectors are up sharply, signaling consumers are more willing to spend money on non-essential items than they were last year. Apparel sales are up 9.8% over last year, jewelry is up 2.6%, and luxury items excluding jewelry increased 2.6%.

The increases in the jewelry and luxury categories could mask a hidden demand, said McNamara. He explained that jewelry and luxury items sell better at the end of the season, and last-minute sales are the bulk of holiday spending in both segments. For example, he noted about 30% of jewelry sales occur in the 10 days before Christmas.

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