Best Christmas Ever As Department Stores See Stocks Skyrocket

CHICAGO (Reuters) – Shares of U.S. department stores jumped on Tuesday as Mastercard Inc said shoppers spent over $800 billion during the season, more than ever before, boosted by growing consumer confidence, rising employment and early discounts.

Sarah Quinlan, head of market insights for Mastercard Advisors, disclosed the figure after the payments processor’s analytics arm published its SpendingPulse retail report.

The report said holiday sales in stores and online between Nov 1 and Dec 24 rose 4.9 percent, the fastest year-on-year pace of increase since 2011. Mastercard, which tracks spending by combining sales activity in its payments network with estimates of cash and other payment forms, excluded automobile sales from its figures.

Most U.S. retail stocks have tumbled this year as they continued to lose sales to online stores, mainly Amazon.com Inc. Traditional players have also been hurt by heavy investments in technology and discounting, made to keep up with online and off-price competition.

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