Sara Quinlan

In its midseason update, Mastercard’s SpendingPulse report revealed “strong growth” of a 3.6 percent sales gain over the same period last year. The data excludes automotive sales and is for the retail spending period of Nov. 1 through Dec. 9.

Analysts at the company said results reiterate a forecast for the holiday that is on track to be the best “since 2010, with the overall potential to surpass 5 percent year-over-year growth.”

Sarah Quinlan, senior vice president of market insights at Mastercard, said when reviewing holiday spending, “it’s easy to see that 2017 will likely be a good year for retailers. Unemployment is at 4.1 percent, wages are rising, consumers are confident. It is all playing out in the shopping picture this holiday season as retailers and gift recipients would want it to.”

The company also noted that similar spending trends are occurring in the U.K., where retail sales “saw 3.1 percent growth in November, with 12.2 percent e-commerce increases. Categories like furniture and electronics were among the big winners.”

Other key findings from the report include e-commerce sales growth of 16.3 percent since November. “While Black Friday still accounts for significant dollar volumes, Cyber Week (Nov. 27 to Dec. 3) saw higher growth this year — sales were up 5 percent compared to last year,” Mastercard researchers said in the report.

The data also showed that markdowns in early November drove sales. Mastercard said “early bird shoppers were particularly spending on electronics, home improvement and jewelry, though all categories saw growth, including apparel.”

Overall, Quinlan and her team noted that “home is clearly where the heart is this holiday season, with home-related purchases way up. Not only did home improvement grow 11.6 percent, but home furniture and furnishings was up 3.5 percent.”

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