Mastercard SpendingPulse: Holiday sales to rise 3.1%; lists top 10 shopping days

By Marianne Wilson – 11/04/2019

A just-released holiday survey is not quite as robust as most others.

U.S. retail sales are expected to grow 3.1% (excluding automotive) between November 1 and December 24 this year over last, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse. By comparison, the National Retail Federation forecast holiday sales to increase between 3.8% and 4.2% over 2018.

The Mastercard survey, which measures consumer spending across all payment types including cash and check, expects online sales to account for 14.6% of total retail sales as double-digit ecommerce growth continues.  The experiential categories—such as restaurants and travel—are expected to continue their growth trend as consumers redefine the “splurge.”

Mastercard expects the top 10 busiest days for holiday spending will be Nov. 29 (Black Friday), followed by Dec. 21, Dec. 14, Dec. 20, Dec. 7, Dec. 13, Nov. 30 and Dec. 6.

Mastercard noted this year’s calendar shift, which results in only 26 days between Thanksgiving and Christmas this year compared to 32 days last year, will cause  a concentrated number of shoppers in stores on key shopping days. It also will likely increase in intensity and importance of online sales and promotional activity before and during Thanksgiving week.

“Despite fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the sales outlook remains positive overall,” said Steve Sadove, senior advisor for Mastercard and former CEO and chairman of Saks Incorporated. “A shorter holiday season puts more importance on each shopping day of the season, making the role of the internet important in helping deliver consumers the omnichannel shopping experience they want.”