- Mastercard Spending Pulse, which tracks all kinds of payments including cash and debit cards, reported Sunday that holiday sales had risen 8.5 percent from a year ago.
- Experts say that the Omicron variant is likely to slow down the unexpectedly strong recovery of the US economy through the disruption of travel and in-person shopping.
Strong jump in sales
Mastercard Spending Pulse, which tracks all kinds of payments including cash and debit cards, reported Sunday that holiday sales had risen 8.5 percent from a year ago. That is the highest single-year increase since 2004.
Compared to the holiday season in 2019, the time before the pandemic broke out, this year’s sales have increased 10.7%.
“Shoppers were eager to secure their gifts ahead of the retail rush, with conversations surrounding supply chain and labor supply issues sending consumers online and to stores in droves,” senior advisor for Mastercard Steve Sadove said in a statement.
The impressive results were driven primarily by American demand for clothing and jewellery. Specifically, during the above period, sales of clothing increased 47%, jewellery increased 32% and electronics increased 16%.
Online sales increased 11% year on year and 61% year on year in 2019. Department stores also reported a 21% increase in sales over the same period in 2020.
The broader picture will come into play next month when the National Retail Federation (NRF) will release its sales figures for November-December 2021 in mid-January 2022. The report will be based on data from the US Department of Commerce, while analysts will also “dissect” financial results for the fourth quarter of 2021 from different retailers.
Influence from the Omicron variation
US airlines have canceled thousands of flights during the long holiday period (from December 24 to 27) due to a shortage of manpower due to reasons related to the COVID-19 epidemic. Observers predict this worrying situation of the US aviation industry will continue until after Christmas. There is currently no clear indication of when flight schedules will return to normal.
Experts say that the Omicron variant is likely to slow down the unexpectedly strong recovery of the US economy through the disruption of travel and in-person shopping. This variation could also fuel already hot inflation by forcing factories and ports to close, delaying freight operations and driving up prices.
Until now, experts still do not know the extent of vulnerability or how long this variation will last for the US and global economy.