Retail Sales Stayed Strong During the Holiday Season

The Wall Street Journal reports that holiday retail sales were up:

Fueled by high consumer confidence and a robust job market, U.S. retail sales in the holiday period rose at their best pace since 2011, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse, which tracks both online and in-store spending. Sales, excluding automobiles, rose 4.9% from Nov. 1 through Christmas Eve, compared with a 3.7% gain in the same period last year, according to the Mastercard Inc. unit, which tracks all forms of payment.

….“It started with a bang in the week leading up to Black Friday,” said Sarah Quinlan, a senior vice president of marketing insights at Mastercard….“Overall, this year was a big win for retail,” Ms. Quinlan said.

Let’s find out how we really did. Adjusted for inflation, holiday sales are up 2.7 percent compared to 2 percent last year. That’s a little less impressive than the nominal numbers. Here’s how that compares to sales growth during the first ten months of the year:

So retail sales in 2017 were up 2.6 percent through October and 2.7 percent during the holiday season. In other words, the holiday season was nothing special.  However, the full-year figures are very impressive: growth of about 2.6 percent compared to about 0.5 percent last year. If you’re looking for some Christmas cheer, that’s the comparison to look at.

Now to find out how much of this was just a runup in credit card debt. We won’t have figures on that until next year.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend