KEY POINTS

  • This year’s holiday season had record-high online shopping
  • Super Saturday had $34.4 billion sales
  • Wage growth and good labor market boosted shopping

A new high in online shopping sales in the U.S. customers was recorded during this year's holiday season. 

The data was revealed in a report by Mastercard Wednesday, noting the hike in e-commerce sales during the period. It noted the surge happened despite a compressed holiday shopping season this year.

Excluding autos, holiday retail sales jumped 3.4 percent. Holiday shopping is a boom time for all retailers and it accounts for 40 percent of their annual sales. 

The data said online sales this year constituted 14.6 percent of total retail and marked a jump of 18.8 percent from the 2018 period. The data tracked retail sales from Nov. 1 until Christmas Eve, Reuters reported.

“E-commerce sales hit a record high this year with more people doing their holiday shopping online,” said Steve Sadove, a senior adviser for Mastercard told Reuters.

Trump congratulates America

President Donald Trump also shared the excitement in a tweet, “2019 holiday retail sales were up 3.4% from last year, the biggest number in U.S. history. Congratulations America!.”

However, Mastercard spokesman William Tsang, quoting the 5.1 percent growth in total sales for 2018, said this year’s holiday sales growth is not the biggest ever.

Sadove explained the surge in sales also owed to the shortened holiday season this year. Thanksgiving, in 2019 was on Nov. 28, a week later than last year’s Nov. 22. It cost retailers six days to drive sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

So the retailers threw open omnichannel sales earlier in the season and fulfilled consumers’ demand for the best deals across all channels and devices. 

Amazon’s liberal return policy 

The holiday season has been a challenge for many retailers after Amazon offered a liberal free return policy and added many new products to the list that were ineligible before. It gave consumers time until January to return purchases made online.

The Reuters report said despite slowing global growth, the U.S. consumer spending was also fuelled by wage growth and a good labor market.

Super Saturday had the best sales

According to a CNN report, Saturday, Dec. 21, known as Super Saturday was the U.S. retail's best day ever. In that single day, a record $34.4 billion sales were recorded, per the data by Customer Growth Partners, a consulting and research firm. 

Americans are missing out on $21 billion worth of gift cards and store credits. Americans are leaving unused gift cards and store credits worth $21 billion on their tables, a survey says. Photo: AFP / Frederic J. BROWN

The sale on Super Saturday was four times the sales from Cyber Monday. Craig Johnson, president of the firm told CNN, “Paced by the 'Big Four' mega-retailers Walmart, Amazon, Costco, and Target Super Saturday was boosted by the best traffic in years.” 

The spending momentum helped many ailing department stores as well. The forecast by National Retail Federation had said the U.S. holiday retail sales in the two months could increase between 3.8 percent and 4.2 percent, according to Reuters.