Holiday shoppers increasingly favored digital outlets over stores, preliminary retail data indicate, with the surge in online orders driving overall sales growth while also taxing package carriers in what was a shorter gift-buying season.
Total U.S. retail sales for Nov. 1 through Christmas Eve rose 3.4% from a year earlier, according to Mastercard MA, +0.07% SpendingPulse, which tracks both online and in-store spending with all forms of payment. The tally excludes automobiles.
Online sales continued to set the pace, rising 18.8% during the period, compared with growth of 1.2% for in-store sales. Digital’s 14.6% share of total sales was a new high, according to Mastercard.
Industry consultants had predicted strong or, at least, steady holiday retail sales, buoyed by a robust U.S. economy and low unemployment. The shift online reflects a reshaping of the retail industry, with department stores struggling to attract shoppers, while others, including Amazon.com Inc. AMZN, -0.21% and Target Corp. TGT, +0.16% , use their digital platforms to grab market share.
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