Americans spent more on items like furniture during the holidays this year, with online shopping in particular seeing a big spike, according to a report released Monday.
Overall spending rose 7.9 percent from a year ago, according to the MasterCard SpendingPulse report, which tracks retail sales across cards, cash and checks from Black Friday to Christmas Eve. The uptick was driven by people sitting in the comfort of their homes or at work, with online shopping up 20 percent.
Shopping at physical stores still accounts for the majority of spending during the holidays. But the continuing shift to online shopping is forcing retailers to improve their websites, or offer perks like faster or free delivery. Earlier this month, another report by First Data also found that online sales growth was outpacing sales growth at physical stores. That report was based on payments from Oct. 31 to Dec. 14.
The SpendingPulse report does not include spending by dollar amounts. But the National Retail Federation, the nation's largest retail trade group, expects sales for November and December to rise 3.7 percent to $630.5 billion from a year ago.
For the traditional holiday shopping period from Black Friday to Christmas Eve, the MasterCard SpendingPulse report found that furniture sales rose in the double-digit percentages, indicating that people are “willing and able” to spend on big-ticket items.
Sales of women's clothing also rose double-digits, while men's apparel declined. The report noted that the warm weather this fall pushed back sales of clothing, leading to some pent-up demand during the holiday shopping period. Retailers such as Macy's had said the unseasonably warm temperatures would force it to slash prices on items like coats and boots during the holidays.
The SpendingPulse report is based on sales activity on the MasterCard payments network, along with estimates for cash and check spending based on surveys.