Despite a supply chain crisis that has upended sectors of the U.S. economy, holiday retails sales this year increased 8.5% compared with last year, according to the latest figures released by MasterCard.
MasterCard Spending Pulse tracked sales online and in-store, excluding automotive, between November 1 and December 24.
Steve Sadove, senior advisor for MasterCard and former CEO and Chairman of Saks Incorporated, attributed the rise to shoppers being eager to secure gifts ahead of the retail rush.
He said conversations around supply chain and labor supply issues sent consumers online and to stores "in droves."
"Consumers splurged throughout the season, with apparel and department stores experiencing strong growth as shoppers sought to put their best dressed foot forward," Sadove said in a statement.
Other insights from MasterCard's data showed that consumers shopped earlier this year than in years past. Black Friday was key, with shoppers driving retail sales up more than 14% year-over-year between Friday, November 26 through Sunday, November 28.
E-commerce made up more than a fifth of total retail sales this holiday season – up from 20.6% in 2020 and 14.6% in 2019, according to the data.
By category, clothing rose 47%, jewelry 32%, electronics 16%. Online sales were up 11% from a year ago and 61% from 2019. Department stores registered a 21% increase over 2020.
The surge in retail sales came despite shoppers grappling with higher prices, product shortages, and a raging new COVID-19 variant in recent weeks.
Overall, analysts had expected a strong holiday season, fueled by early shopping that started back in October in anticipation of a product shortage. Consumers were also determined to celebrate the holidays after a muted one just a year ago.
Still, November saw a slowdown in retail sales, in part because of the early shopping. And omicron, which has fast become the dominant version of the virus in the United States, has now spoiled holiday plans for many Americans who have had to cancel gatherings last minute.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.