Monday , January 24, 2022

New Data From Mastercard Confirm the Explosion in Online Volume Is Still in Progress

E-commerce was hitting its stride before the pandemic, but two years later it’s clear sales volume via desktop and mobile devices is exploding. Online sales in the United States jumped fully 60.4% in December compared to December in 2019, according to the latest SpendingPulse report from Mastercard Inc., released late Thursday. E-commerce in the latest Christmas month was up double digits even when compared to a year earlier, posting a 13.5% increase over December 2020.

Overall, retail sales generally—excluding automobile purchases—grew 6.9% last month year-over-year, and were up 8.1% compared to 2019, according to the report. For SpendingPulse, Mastercard gathers data from its own network, along with estimates for cash and check sales. The estimates are based on surveys.

Mastercard’s research aligns with other sources. Reports by the U.S. Commerce Department indicate e-commerce sales rose 32.1% year-over-year in the fourth quarter of 2020, to nearly $207 billion. Numbers for 2021’s fourth quarter are not yet available.

Most spending categories enjoyed a banner month in December, according to the SpendingPulse report, with restaurants leading the way, posting a 51.9% increase compared to December 2020. Luxury goods (excluding jewelry), at 46.8%, and apparel, at 46.3%, followed closely behind eateries. Jewelry itself came in 46.8% ahead. The slowest-growing category was groceries, with an 8.3% increase.

All categories, groceries included, enjoyed double-digit increases over December 2019. Jewelry posted the fasted two-year growth, at 27%, followed by apparel (22.6%) and restaurants (21.1%). The slowest-growing two-year trend belongs to department stores, which clocked a 15.3% jump over December 2019, though the category grew 19.1% from December 2020.

Expect more of the same in 2022, especially in e-commerce, Mastercard says. “Retailers and brands spent much of the pandemic shifting or expanding their digital channels, which we see reflected in the SpendingPulse figures … innovation will be amplified with retailers looking at different platforms and tactics to reach hyper-connected consumers,” the company’s release about the report says.

For its report, Mastercard says it looks at retail sales at merchants and food-services establishments both large and small. Service-sector sales, however, are excluded.

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