U.S. holiday retail sales increased 3.4 percent from last year, with e-commerce sales hitting a record high, data released by Mastercard showed. According to Mastercard SpendingPulse, which provides insights into overall retail spending trends across all payment types, including cash and check, holiday sales increased 3.4 percent, excluding autos. E-commerce sales growth was 18.8 percent this holiday season compared to 18.4 percent growth registered in 2018. E-commerce sales accounted for 14.6 percent of total retail sales this year. "E-commerce sales hit a record high this year with more people doing their holiday shopping online. Due to a later than usual Thanksgiving holiday, we saw retailers offering omnichannel sales earlier in the season, meeting consumers' demand for the best deals across all channels and devices,"said Steve Sadove, senior advisor for Mastercard. The holiday season is the most crucial period of the year for the retail industry. Traditionally, Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, marks the start of the holiday shopping season in the U.S. This year's holiday season was among the shortest, as there were six fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas compared to last year. The Mastercard SpendingPulse report details holiday shopping from November 1 through December 24. Key findings of the report indicate this was a winning holiday season for retail overall, especially for e-commerce. Total apparel recorded 1 percent growth in sales year over year. The category experienced stronger-than-expected e-commerce growth, up 17 percent from 2018. The jewelry sector experienced 1.8 percent growth in retail sales, with online sales growing 8.8 percent. This trend started before the holiday season and helped the sector power through to its finish. However, department stores finished the season with a 1.8 percent decline in overall sales from last year, while online sales rose 6.9 percent. Electronics and appliances sales increased 4.6 percent, and the home furniture and furnishings category grew 1.3 percent. U.S. President Donald Trump touted this year's holiday sales figures in a tweet in capital letters on Wednesday. "2019 HOLIDAY RETAIL SALES WERE UP 3.4% FROM LAST YEAR, THE BIGGEST NUMBER IN U.S. HISTORY. CONGRATULATIONS AMERICA!," he tweeted. U.S. holiday retail sales in 2018 had recorded its strongest growth in the past six years, increasing 5.1 percent to more than $850 billion, data released by Mastercard last year showed.
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