January was strong across the in-store and digital retail spectrum in the U.S., according to Mastercard SpendingPulse, which reported a 7.2% year-over-year retail sales gain for the month excluding auto sales.
Despite Omicron and elevated inflation, pent-up savings, wage growth and the continued re-opening of the “experience economy” prompted consumers to spend, according to Mastercard. Department stores, apparel and luxury retail all saw double-digit growth, Mastercard noted.
Key retail trends cited by Mastercard were:
- Online sales grew 10.4% in the month versus January 2021. Compared to pre-pandemic levels, e-commerce sales were up 110.1%, underscoring the sustained and significant nature of the shift to digital.
- Apparel advanced as consumers who didn’t refresh their closets during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic pushed sales up 37.6% in January year over year, the strongest growth rate for the month in SpendingPulse history. Department stores gained from resurgent apparel purchasing, with January sales up 10.5% year over year and 9.8% compared with pre-pandemic levels.
- Luxury gained 45.3% from January 2021 and jewelry gained 19.8% from the year-earlier month as sales continued to outperform ahead of Valentine’s Day.
- Services, now referred to as experiences, gained as consumers resumed in-person activities, with restaurant sales advancing 36.7% versus January of the year before and 16.6% compared to pre-pandemic levels.
“Coming on the heels of the holidays, January typically marks a month of returns and exchanges,” said Steve Sadove, senior advisor for Mastercard and former chairman and CEO of Saks. “However, the strong growth across sectors reflects the optimism and eagerness for the year ahead. With nearly all sectors up, we see consumers returning to their shopping habits with a continued emphasis on digital.”