After Wall Street showed a case of nerves in recent days about the health of the economy, retailers reported the strongest Christmas sales in six years.
Sales in the U.S. from Nov. 1 through Christmas Eve were up 5.1 percent to more than $850 billion, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse, CNBC reported.
Mastercard reported that online sales rose 19 percent.
“From shopping aisles to online carts, consumer confidence translated into holiday cheer for retail,” said Steve Sadove, former CEO of Saks Incorporated and an advisor for Mastercard, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
“Gas prices are low. People are benefiting from lower tax rates,” he added. “You have an environment where people are, bottom line, feeling good about their own personal financial situation and that’s been reflected.”
Bob Phibbs, CEO of The Retail Doctor, said low unemployment leads to high spending.
“The reality is the consumer felt comfortable enough to splurge and we’re hearing more and more it’s for items for themselves,” he said.
Clothing sales rose nearly 8 percent, the best year-over-year jump since 2010, while home improvement sales rose 9 percent.
Electronics and appliances were not big sellers, recording a .7 percent decline, Mastercard said.
Department stores face a challenge. Their online sales rose 10.2 percent, but in-store sales dropped 1.3 percent.
“Department stores in aggregate have been losing market share and not performing like other sectors,” Sadove said.
The report noted that the record-breaking season was achieved despite some pre-winter blasts that kept shoppers home in late December.
Amazon reported having a record-breaking season, but didn’t give specific numbers.
Amazon stock rose 4.35 percent Wednesday during a stock market rebound that, as of mid-day, had erased much of the losses from Monday, Investor’s Business Daily reported.
As of 1:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up about 400 points, having gained as much as 500 points in earlier trading.
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