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Record-breaking Christmas retail sales

An Amazon Prime package at a UPS facility in New York Associated Press/Photo by Mark Lennihan

Record-breaking Christmas retail sales

Retail sales in the United States jumped 4.9 percent this year during the Christmas season, the largest increase since 2011, according to the latest Mastercard SpendingPulse report. A strong economy and growing consumer confidence helped to fuel retail spending, said analysts, noting retailers benefited from Christmas falling on a Monday this year, giving shoppers a full weekend for last-minute gift buying. “Overall, this year was a big win for retail,” Sarah Quinlan, Mastercard’s senior vice president of market insights, told The Washington Post. Electronics and appliances saw a 7.5 percent increase. Last-minute shoppers were largely responsible for a 5.9 percent boost in jewelry sales. “Men waited to the last minute,” Quinlan said. “Always have.” Sales were strong at brick-and-mortar stores, but online sales skyrocketed: Amazon had a record-breaking holiday season, with more than 1 billion items ordered worldwide. In the days before Christmas, UPS ran out of drivers and had to put accountants and other office workers behind the wheel of delivery trucks. But analysts warn we won’t know the whole story until the dust settles in February or March. Free shipping is expensive, and returns are a headache for online retailers.

Kiley Crossland Kiley is a former WORLD correspondent.


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