Apparel Sales Rise During Christmas

The holiday retail season ended up being good for the apparel business, according to a statement released by MasterCard Spending Pulse on Dec. 28, the market research group tracks spending in the MasterCard payments network.

Apparel experienced high single-digit growth during the season, which began in Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving to Christmas Eve. Sales for women’s apparel rose by double digits.

Excluding auto and gas, retail sales grew 7.9 percent between Black Friday and Christmas Eve in a year-over-year comparison to last year.

The MasterCard Spending Pulse report was one of the first measures of the crucial sales season to be released. Sarah Quinlan, senior vice president, market insights for MasterCard Advisors, said business was good, despite anxiety over performance over retail sales.

“After a slow start, I’m very happy to see that the holiday season was hot for retailers,” Quinlan said. “We saw some very promising trends.”

Media reports said that there was a shift in the way U.S. consumers shop during the holiday retail season. Retail traffic at shopping malls declined while online retail business increased.

During the kickoff to the holiday season, there was a 5.1 percent decline in store traffic, according to RetailNext Inc., a San Jose, Calif.–based shopper-analytics group.

Shelly Kohan, RetailNext’s vice president of retail consulting, said that more people shopped online during the first weekend of the holiday season. “The weekend continued to demonstrate the emergence and importance of mobile shopping, and shoppers increasingly used digital devices to shop brands, research products, compare pricing and make purchases,” she said, in a Dec. 1 statement.

Physical retailers did very well if they did not have to compete against e-commerce “Over the holiday weekend, there were patterns of strong results for retailers with less-effective digital channels, and they outperformed on the brick-and-mortar side of the business.”

Analysts held a lot of anxiety over the 2015 holiday retail season. The National Retail Federation forecast that holiday retail sales would increase 3.7 percent compared to the 2014 season when sales increased 4.1 percent.

On Christmas Eve, Retail Metrics, a Boston-area market research group, forecast that sales would increase 0.4 percent for the fourth quarter of the 2015 fiscal year for the retailers on its index