Eat, drink and be merry: Here’s where shoppers have been spending the most money this holiday season

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Restaurants are set to become the biggest winners of a holiday season that could turn out to be the most normalized since the onset of the pandemic.

That’s according to a new Mastercard SpendingPulse survey released on Monday, which showed spending at dining establishments surging 15.1% over the 2021 holiday period. Total retail expenditures for the Nov. 1–to–Dec. 24 period in 2022 rose 7.6%, with in-store spending up 6.8% and online spending up 10.6%.

Restaurant spending beat out several other categories, such as apparel, where spending was up 4.4% from 2021, and electronics and jewelry, where a respective 5.3% and 5.4% less were spent, and department stores, which saw spending rise 1%.

“This holiday retail season looked different than years past,” said Steve Sadove, senior adviser for Mastercard and former CEO and chairman of Saks Inc. “Retailers discounted heavily but consumers diversified their holiday spending to accommodate rising prices and an appetite for experiences and festive gatherings postpandemic.”

Government data for November showed consumer spending was up just 0.1%, reflecting cautiousness among households and price cutting by retailers to lure those hesitant shoppers in. But the data also showed more spending on holiday recreation and travel, expected to go in the books as a busy season even if deadly winter storm may have wreaked havoc on the plans of many Americans over the Christmas weekend.

Of course, even as some merrymakers felt confident enough to make more plans and see more friends and family this year, the virus of course continues to cause illness and death. The U.S. reported 70,000 newly diagnosed cases for the first time since September on Thursday, while 422 people died of COVID-19 on Wednesday.

Don’t miss: As COVID cases rise, how to steer clear of viruses during the holiday season

Also see: 4 tips for staying healthy while traveling during this ‘tripledemic’ cold and flu season

The Mastercard SpendingPulse data measure in-store and online retail sales for all payment forms and are not inflation-adjusted.

As for the companies that might be benefiting from that increased traffic, the year-end cheer probably won’t be enough to make a dent in what has been a difficult year with would-be consumers juggling worries over inflation, rising interest rates and a war in Europe.

The Invesco Dynamic Leisure & Entertainment exchange-traded fund
whose holdings include Chipotle Mexican Grill

and First Watch Restaurant Group
has gained 6.5% to date in the fourth quarter and is down 20% for the year as of Thursday. The broad benchmark S&P 500

is poised for a nearly 20% loss in 2022.

Read: How a Santa Claus rally, or lack thereof, sets the stage for the stock market in first quarter

And: Best stock picks for 2023: Here are Wall Street analysts’ most heavily favored choices



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