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MasterCard: Women’s Apparel, Jewelry Lead US Holiday Season Sales

U.S. retail sales during the Black Friday to Christmas Eve period, excluding automotive sales, rose 5.5 percent in 2014, and women’s apparel and jewelry led the charge, according to MasterCard’s holiday spending report. This increase is parallel with the original SpendingPulse forecasts and reflects one additional shopping day this year over 2013.

The report tracks spending by combining sales activity in MasterCard’s payments network with estimates of cash and other payment forms, according to Reuters, and offers an early look into how the holiday season shaped up, while official government data and results from retailers won’t be available until this January.

Based on MasterCard’s initial analysis, the jewelry and women’s apparel sectors saw greater success in sales than any other category.

“This holiday season was a social one,” Sarah Quinlan, senior vice president at MasterCard Advisors said. “While certain retail categories saw steady performance from prior months, the focus on creating experiences stayed at the top of many lists. From dining out to planning trips to memorable pieces of jewelry, we saw increases in those categories that will drive future stories beyond just a package exchanged with a friend or family member.”

Many new outlets also pointed to consumers’ reaction to positive economic indicators as a primary force in driving activity during the holiday shopping season.

“The results of the MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse report are the latest sign that a stronger economy boosted spending during the holiday season. An improving jobs market, with unemployment at a six-year low, and falling gasoline prices are among the factors helping to spur spending,” Reuters noted.