Right now, everyone’s eyes are on the holiday shopping season.

The holidays make up more than 25% of annual retail sales, according to research firm Deloitte. A strong holiday shopping season is seen as an indication of the health of the American consumer.

Are you hoping for a swift rebound for the stock market in 2019?

If so, the latest holiday sales numbers will be welcome news…

A Huge Trend Toward Online Shopping

This year, Americans flocked to online deals like we’ve never seen before.

Mastercard SpendingPulse tracks Americans’ spending habits. It said online shopping from November 1 to December 24 grew a massive 19.1% compared to 2017. Online sales made up 13% of total retail sales.

That surge for e-commerce helped holiday sales reach a record $850 billion this year. It’s a 5.1% increase over last year — the best growth we’ve seen since 2012.

UPS said it delivered about 800 million packages during the holidays, a 5% rise over 2017.

Many brick-and-mortar retailers reported strong e-commerce sales. Online sales growth for department stores climbed 10.2%.

But this trend toward online shopping was particularly beneficial for Amazon.com Inc. (Nasdaq: AMZN).

The company sold more than 180 million items between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday.

Amazon Prime members bought more than 1 billion items throughout the holiday season.

And some of Amazon’s best-selling products were its own devices, such as its Echo and Fire TV Stick.

Investors reacted to the news by grabbing up AMZN shares. The stock spiked nearly 10% the day after Christmas.

Holiday Cheer for Retail

The stock market has been gloomy lately. But this year’s holiday spending shows that Americans are eager to spend money.

After all, unemployment is at its lowest level since 1969. Wages are rising at their fastest pace since the recession ended in 2009.

You can see that the average consumer feels good about where we’re headed in 2019.

“From shopping aisles to online carts, consumer confidence translated into holiday cheer for retail,” said Steve Sadove, a senior adviser at Mastercard.

Sadove added that tax cuts and low gas prices are some reasons why “people are, bottom line, feeling good about their own personal financial situation.”

So there’s finally some good news for investors as we head into the new year.


Jay Goldberg

Assistant Managing Editor, Banyan Hill Publishing