Shoppers spent more online during this year's holiday shopping season, a report by Mastercard showed on Wednesday, with e-commerce sales hitting a record high.
The holiday shopping season is a crucial period for retailers and can account for up to 40 percent of annual sales. But this year, Thanksgiving was on Nov. 28, nearly a week later than last year's Nov. 22, leaving retailers with six fewer days to drive sales between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
E-commerce sales this year made up 14.6 percent of total retail and rose 18.8 percent from the 2018 period, according to Mastercard’s data tracking retail sales from Nov. 1 through Christmas Eve.
Overall holiday retail sales, excluding autos, rose 3.4 percent.
"E-commerce sales hit a record high this year with more people doing their holiday shopping online," said Steve Sadove, senior adviser for Mastercard.
"Due to a later than usual Thanksgiving holiday, we saw retailers offering omnichannel sales earlier in the season, meeting consumers’ demand for the best deals across all channels and devices,” Sadove said.
Retailers have invested heavily to provide same-day delivery, lockers for store pick-up and improve their online presence as they battle against retail giant Amazon.com Inc for market share.
U.S. President Donald Trump, whose support in the polls has been buoyed by strong economic data despite his impeachment by the House of Representatives, heralded the news in a tweet in all capital letters.
"2019 HOLIDAY RETAIL SALES WERE UP 3.4% FROM LAST YEAR, THE BIGGEST NUMBER IN U.S. HISTORY. CONGRATULATIONS AMERICA!," Trump tweeted.
However, Mastercard spokesman William Tsang, citing 2018's 5.1 percent growth in total sales, said this year's holiday sales growth was not the biggest ever.
The White House had no immediate comment on the apparent discrepancy.