Dec. 26 (UPI) -- Record spending online anchored a 2019 U.S. holiday shopping season that beat last year's sales by more than 3 percent, an industry analysis said Thursday.
MasterCard reported the figures in its SpendingPulse report, which covers shopping across all payment types between Nov. 1 and Dec. 24. Growth over the same period last year was 3.4 percent, it said. The figures do not include automobile sales.
The study pinpointed online shopping as the greatest contributor to retail U.S. spending. The report said online sales for this holiday season were up nearly 20 percent over 2018.
Online sales accounted for roughly 15 percent of total retail transactions for the 53-day period -- an all-time high, MasterCard said -- as well as 15.4 percent of "Black Friday" sales and nearly a quarter of "Cyber Monday" sales.
"We saw retailers offering omni-channel sales earlier in the season, meeting consumers' demand for the best deals across all channels and devices," said MasterCard senior adviser Steve Sadove.
One reason for the record figures, Sadove said, is this year's later than usual Thanksgiving holiday on Nov. 28, which shortened the traditional shopping season and prompted online retailers to roll out holiday sales offers earlier than usual.
This year is also the second consecutive in which online sales grew by at least 18 percent. MasterCard put this year's growth at 18.8 percent, a slight improvement over the 18.4 percent rise in 2018.
Growth in online sales this holiday season was particularly notable in the specialty apparel business (17 percent). Department stores (9 percent), jewelry (8 percent) and electronics (7 percent) also logged sales increases online, MasterCard said.