Holiday retail sales rose at their best pace since 2011, thanks to strong consumer confidence and a healthy job market, Mastercard SpendingPulse reported. "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, which tracks spending online and in stores.
Retailers got help from the calendar, with shoppers getting a full weekend for last-minute buys because Christmas fell on a Monday. Sales, excluding automobiles, rose by 4.9 percent over the Nov. 1 to Christmas Eve season, up from a 3.7 percent gain last year. Online sales continued to be the driving force, increasing by 18.1 percent.