MasterCard Spending Report for Holidays Shows Weak Electronics

Consumers spent strongly on eating out and lodging during the holiday shopping season, while sales were flat in electronics, reflecting a shift that is ongoing toward spending on different experiences instead of on goods, said MasterCard in a spending report from the holidays.

Overall, retail sales were up 5.5% during the time from the day after Thanksgiving known as Black Friday through the day of December 24, in comparison to one year ago.

MasterCard announced that growth of sales during that period was in line with what it had forecasted for the period and underscored how the improving economy in the U.S. has impacted sales.

MasterCard Advisors track spending during the holiday shopping season through combining the aggregate activity in sales and MasterCard in its payment network for credit cards with estimates of other forms of payment including checks and cash.

MasterCard senior vice president Sarah Quinlan said that lodging and casual dining were amongst the strongest categories, posting near double digit and double digit growth respectively compared to the same time last year.

The new data highlights a trend that has continued of the consumer that wants experience over electronics.

Contrary to predictions made by some experts, the strong category was not electronics, with sales quite flat from the day after Thanksgiving through December 24 and in the red when sales started on November 1 to be taken into consideration.

Overall, apparel posted growth in the single digits, with women’s apparel strong since Black Friday, showing a growth in the mid single digits.

However, Quinlan said that because of discounting being so steep, it was not yet clear whether the sales growth in apparel would turn into profits.

Other strong sectors included furniture, which analysts said highlighted the growing confidence amongst consumers across the economy.

Jewelry saw solid growth as well increasing in the mid single digits between Black Friday and the end of shopping on December 24.

The complete numbers will be released soon and even though a solid growth might be seen, the steep discounts are bound to take a bite out of the margins.