Mastercard: Holiday sales see biggest increase since 2011
Retailers have plenty to cheer at the beginning of the new year.
Holiday sales increased 4.9% in 2017, setting a new record for dollars spent, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse. It was largest year-over-year increase since 2011. Online shopping saw large gains of 18.1% compared to 2016, boosted by a late season rally. (The SpendingPulse report details holiday shopping from Nov.1 through Dec. 24 and covers retail sales across all payment types.)
In-store traffic saw a big rise on Super Saturday (Dec. 23), increasing 20% over year, according to data from Shoppertrak. (Saturday, Dec. 16 and Sunday, Dec. 17, also performed exceptionally well, posting a 2.8% increase in traffic over last year, the company reported.)
“The drastic increase in shopper visits supports our data-backed assertion that Super Saturday’s impact increases based on its proximity to Christmas Day,” Shoppertrak stated.” Last year, with it being more than a week away from Christmas Day last year, the day had less urgency. This year, Super Saturday was only two days away from Christmas Day, and it served as the last full shopping day prior to Christmas, motivating shoppers to get out and hit the stores.” last year,
Although it was a winning holiday season for retail overall, the story was different category by category, according to Mastercard. Electronics and appliances increased 7.5%, the strongest growth of the last 10 years. The home furniture and furnishings category grew 5.1%, as did home improvement.
Specialty apparel and department stores, which both traditionally see the bulk of sales happen in-store, saw moderate gains. This is particularly impressive given recent store closings, Mastercard noted.
Additional findings of the Mastercard SpendingPulse report include:
• Retailers’ heavy early-season promotions paid off, with the first three weeks of November seeing significant jumps.
• In addition, shoppers were still spending late into the season, with Dec. 23 next to Black Friday in terms of single-day spending. This was a boon to certain categories, including jewelry. Jewelry grew 5.9%, largely driven by last-minute sales.
“Overall, this year was a big win for retail,” said Sarah Quinlan, senior VP of Market Insights, Mastercard. “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.”
Amazon acquires smart-home start-up
Amazon is expanding in the connected home devices space.
The online giant has acquired Blink, a start-up specializing in wireless video home security cameras and monitoring systems. Launched in early 2016, Blink also makes video doorbells that allow homeowners to view a live feed (via their smartphones) of who is at their door.
The terms of the deal were not disclosed. Blink’s products are compatible with Amazon’s smart home line, Echo.
“If you own one of our systems, nothing changes for now,” Blink said on its website. “We’ll continue to operate under the Amazon umbrella selling and supporting the same great products you know and love.”
The acquisition comes as Google has been beefing up its own line of connected home devices offerings.
Report: Mattress Firm to close some stores
The largest mattress retailer in the United States plans to reduce its store portfolio, which has expanded in recent years due to a series of major acquisitions.
Mattress Firm, which was acquired by Steinhoff International Holdings in 2016, plans to close about 200 underperforming and duplicate stores during the next 18 months, reported Bisnow Houston.
“As a result of putting together 1,500 stores over most recent years through acquisitions, we have recognized that there are approximately 300 underperforming or duplicative stores,” chairman Steve Stagner said during a lenders presentation to Steinhoff stakeholders, the report said. “Over last year, we’ve already gotten out of about 90 locations.”
Currently, Mattress Firm has roughly 3,400 U.S. locations.
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