Shoppers reap benefits of a stable economy

MasterCard Inc announced that shoppers have spent over $800 billion during the holiday season.  While sales increase, shares of American department stores rocketed on Tuesday. Mastercard Advisors released a report that said sales in stores and online between Nov 1 and Dec 24 rose 4.9 percent, the fastest year-on-year pace of increase since 2011.

Many brick-and-mortar businesses stocks have fallen over the year, as they lose sales to online stores including Amazon.com. Shares in J.C. Penney Co Inc rose 7.6 percent on Tuesday, while Kohl’s Corp shares were up 5.8 percent, Macy’s Inc rose 5.1 percent and Nordstrom Inc increased 2.8 percent. Online sales rose 18 percent.

Amazon.com released a statement on Tuesday, announcing they had topped its worldwide holiday sales record this year, with more than 4 million people trying out Amazon Prime. According to the Wall Street Journal, Holiday sales increased in 2011 but fell in 2014.

US shoppers spent eagerly on electronics and appliances, which saw sales rise 7.5%, the category’s strongest performance of the last decade.  Retail sales numbers are often revised later as a more thorough analysis is completed. Retailers aggressively promoted early on in the holiday season. Shoppers continued to spend up until the last minute.

MasterCard attributes these strong numbers, to unemployment being at a all time low in the last eight years.  VP of Market Insights Sarah Quinlan released a statement saying  “The strong US economy was a contributing factor, but we also have to recognize that retailers who tried new strategies to engage holiday shoppers were the beneficiaries of this sales increase.”

Adobe Analytics also reported that Cyber Monday was the largest online sales day in history, with shoppers spending $6.59 billion in a single day. Macy’s Chief Executive Jeff Gennette said on Black Friday that the retailer didn’t expect to offer discounts beyond those it had planned in advance. This year there was less discounting of computers, electronics and toys and games, according to Market Track LLC.  Financial experts will now be focusing on post-Christmas sales.