The Wall Street Journal: U.S. retail sales rise at best pace since 2011 over holiday period

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Retailers are enjoying some extra Christmas cheer.

Fueled by high consumer confidence and a robust job market, U.S. retail sales in the holiday period rose at their best pace since 2011, according to Mastercard SpendingPulse, which tracks both online and in-store spending.

Sales, excluding automobiles, rose 4.9% from Nov. 1 through Christmas Eve, compared with a 3.7% gain in the same period last year, according to the Mastercard Inc. unit, which tracks all forms of payment. E-commerce continued to drive the gains, rising 18.1%.

Read: Wal-Mart, Five Below, Dollar Tree among winners heading into final holiday shopping days

“It started with a bang in the week leading up to Black Friday,” said Sarah Quinlan, a senior vice president of marketing insights at Mastercard. She added that retailers benefited this year from Christmas Day falling on a Monday, giving shoppers a full weekend to scoop up last-minute purchases. Dec. 23 ranked next to Black Friday in terms of spending, according to Mastercard.

“Overall, this year was a big win for retail,” Quinlan said.

An expanded version of this report can be found at WSJ.com

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