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Holiday retail sales jumped 3% as more people shop for decor and furniture for their homes

When you're stuck at home for a year, you're probably going to get bored of staring at the same old couch, and those creaks and quirks are going to start to...

Posted: Dec 28, 2020 10:08 AM

When you're stuck at home for a year, you're probably going to get bored of staring at the same old couch, and those creaks and quirks are going to start to drive you nuts.

Unsurprisingly, furniture and home improvement items were big sellers this holiday season, helping give retail sales a 3% boost during this year's expanded holiday shopping season, according to a report by Mastercard SpendingPulse.

Online shopping sales also grew a whopping 49% between October 11 and December 24, further emphasizing how the Covid-19 pandemic has reshaped shopping habits.

The longer-than-average holiday season, which kicked off with a delayed Amazon Prime Day, was marked by a number of retailers offering special deals and promotions to incentivize customers to make earlier purchases to guarantee on-time holiday deliveries.

The holiday sales surge brought on an influx in shipments. Yet in many cases, that limited parcel services' abilities to deliver them on time.

But retailers' boost in shopping and shipping perks led to a decline in last-minute shoppers from the year before, the report found, with online shopping sales making up 19.7% of total retail sales. And Black Friday, a cornerstone unofficial holiday marked with unprecedented deals, landed as the top spending day of the season.

The bump-up in sales and shopping dates was a "testament to the holiday season and strength of retailers and consumers alike," said Steve Sadove, senior advisor for Mastercard and former CEO and Chairman of Saks Incorporated, in a statement.

"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," Sadove said.

Meanwhile, department stores and apparel brands took a plunge in sales falling 10.2% year-over-year and 19.1%, respectively, per Mastercard's report. This comes as many stores have been crushed by loads of debt and changing shopping trends brought on by the pandemic. Roughly 30 retailers and restaurant chains have been forced to file for bankruptcy.

In spite of this, retail offerings including curbside pick-up and online buying led to incremental e-commerce sales growth. Apparel sales swung up 15.7% and department store sales jumped 3.3%, coming at a time when more shoppers focused their attention and shopping decisions on their homes. Furniture and furnishing sales rose 6.2%, while spending on home improvement rose 14.1%, the report found. Electronic and appliance sales also followed suit, increasing by 6%.

The holiday shopping shakeups underline how the pandemic's impact on outside activities has pushed shoppers to make purchases better suited for the inside and with more time spent at home.

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