NEW YORK — US retailers were hoping for bumper Christmas sales to ignite modest consumer spending, and there were fresh signs on Tuesday that they might get it, thanks to an apparent late shopping surge.
MasterCard reported consumer spending had jumped 5.5 percent in the 50 days before Christmas compared with the same period a year earlier, as retailers reported a late spending spree.
“If last year’s holiday story was about gaining some stability, this year?s is about getting back to growth,” said Michael McNamara of SpendingPulse, which tracks data for MasterCard.
The figures — which exclude auto sales — offer hope for retailers battered by the downturn and for the broader economy, which remains highly dependent on consumer spending.
McNamara noted strong growth for jewelry, apparel, luxury and furniture goods.
Online retailers were helped by poor weather in the mid-west and the western United States.
Meanwhile Michael Niemira of the International Council of Shopping Centers said a late boom in spending had helped buoy sales.
“That last-minute holiday spending lift was aided by consumers who had more money as a result of the improving economy, more time as a result of the Friday holiday (with Christmas on Saturday, the federal holiday was observed a day earlier) and more holiday-season excitement than in many years.”