By Brecken Branstrator
brecken.branstrator@nationaljeweler.com
Though overall jewelry retail sales were down this holiday season, e-commerce sales boomed, rising 44.6 percent, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse. Pictured here are diamond and platinum engagement rings from the Forevermark x Micaela collection.
New York—Online sales provided a bright spot this holiday season in many categories while overall retail sales saw mixed results, according to insights from Mastercard.

According to Mastercard SpendingPulse, holiday sales excluding automotive and gas were up 3 percent during the extended holiday period, from Oct. 11 to Dec. 24 (measured as such because consumers started shopping earlier this year).

Within that, online sales powered ahead 49 percent compared with 2019.

SpendingPulse measures overall retail spending trends across all payment types.

During the traditional holiday period—Nov. 1 to Dec. 24—retail sales were up by 2.4 percent and e-commerce was up 47.2 percent compared with 2019.

“American consumers turned the holiday season on its head, redefining ‘home for the holidays’ in a uniquely 2020 way. They shopped from home for the home, leading to record e-commerce growth,” said Steve Sadove, senior advisor for Mastercard and former CEO and Chairman of Saks Incorporated.

E-commerce sales comprised 19.7 percent of overall retail sales, the firm said, up from 13.4 percent last year.

When looking at overall spending during the expanded holiday season, home furniture and furnishings saw the strongest growth of any sector when compared with last year’s holiday season, up 16.2 percent; the category grew 31 percent online specifically.


Home improvement was also up, growing 14.1 percent with e-commerce sales up 79.7 percent.

Meanwhile, jewelry was down 4.3 percent but up 44.6 percent online.

Apparel saw a decline of about 19.1 percent year-over-year but was up 15.7 percent online, while electronics and appliances were up 6 percent overall.

Department stores saw overall sales decline 10.2 percent while online sales were up 3.3 percent, reinforcing the importance of omnichannel this year; buy online, pick up in store as well as features like contactless services were key for retailers this season.

Luxury goods, excluding jewelry, were down 21.1 percent overall.

Not surprisingly, given that retailers started their holiday advertising and promotions earlier this year, there were fewer last-minute shoppers this year than 2019.

This can be shown by the season’s biggest shopping days.

Though Black Friday shopping was down 16.1 percent, it was still the top spending day of the 2020 holiday season, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse.

At No. 2 was the day after Black Friday, known as Small Business Saturday, whereas in 2019 the No. 2 day was the Saturday before Christmas, or Super Saturday.

At No. 3 this year was Saturday, Dec. 12, compared to last year’s No. 3—Dec. 23.

No. 4 this year was Dec. 11, followed by Nov. 30 and then Nov. 25.


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