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Digital Payments and Retail Score Another Christmas Victory

E-commerce accounted for 21.3 percent of U.S. holiday retail sales this past season, up from 15.4 percent from 2015, according to First Data, a further sign that consumers continue to switch their buying and payments away from traditional retail stores. By contrast, full season holiday spending, excluding gas purchases, increased 4.7 percent from last year—still well behind the growth rate for e-commerce but better than the measly 1.8 percent growth booked in 2015.

“This new data confirms that the online share of overall holiday spending continues to grow, with e-commerce seeing significant growth from last year compared to brick and mortar,” First Data said. “These trends will likely continue to shift toward e-commerce, as online retail gains more and more traction.”

First Data released no spending figures in its report, which covers holiday spending through Jan. 2, 2017, and includes Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday. Earlier this month, Adobe Digital Insights, however, pegged total e-commerce holiday spending at $91.7 billion in 2016, a 10.5 percent year-over-year increase. Mobile commerce increased 23 percent, to $28.43 billion, Adobe said. Estimates for total retail spending during the 2016 holiday spending season range from $650 billion to $1 trillion, though more accurate numbers will be available in the coming weeks as retailers release their fourth-quarter financial reports.

When it comes to product categories and types of stores, First Data said that general merchandise stores, dragged down by declining department store sales, suffered a 4.8 percent drop in spending. Clothing and accessories grew only 0.1 percent year over year, and women’s ready-to-wear retailers experienced a 3.7 percent decrease. Other categories showed increases: Building materials, for instance, increased 10.7 percent, while electronics and appliances increased 8.5 percent, and health and personal goods grow 5.6 percent.

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