Total U.S. retail sales have increased year over year every month since September 2020, while consumer spending continues to recover as the holiday season approaches, according to the latest edition of Mastercard SpendingPulse released on Wednesday (Oct. 6). Mastercard SpendingPulse measures in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment.
For September 2021, retail sales across the country — excluding automotive and gasoline — were up 5.4% year over year and up 11.5% from two years ago. eCommerce sales were up 11.5% year over year and 72.4% from two years ago, showing more evidence of the continued growth of digital commerce.
The apparel sector was up 56% year over year and up 15.6% from two years ago, while department stores were up 20.8% from 2020 to 2021 and up 15.5% from 2019.
Electronics and appliances were up 18% year over year and 16.5% from two years ago, while grocery sales were up 3.3% from 2020 to 2021 and up 14.0% from 2019. Jewelry jumped 55.3 from 2020 to 2021 and 56.9% from two years ago. Luxury sales (excluding jewelry) were up 63.8% in the past year and 12% from 2019. Restaurant sales, meanwhile, were up 44.1% from year to year and up 30.7% from two years ago.
“Discretionary spending is seeing strong growth,” Mastercard reported in its announcement. “Restaurants, department stores, apparel and jewelry sectors are up as consumers increasingly venture out to refresh their looks for events, occasions and vacations.”
Meanwhile, U.S. personal consumer expenditures (PCE) were up 0.8% ($130.5 billion) in August, coinciding with an uptick in personal income of 0.2% ($35.5 billion) and a 0.1% increase in disposable personal income (DPI) ($18.9 billion), according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
The increase in spending translates to $66 billion for goods — food, beverages and nondurable goods like household supplies and recreational items — and $64.6 billion for services, including personal care, clothing services, housing and utilities, and healthcare.
August’s PCE price index was up 4.3% from 2020 with increases in both goods and services. Energy prices increased 24.9% and food prices jumped 2.8%.