Online retail sales reach Christmas season record

New York City -- A report released Monday by MasterCard Advisors said that while it’s still too early to know the final outcome of the Christmas shopping season, it’s already clear that it’s been a record season for online retail.

Consumers had spent $36.4 billion online by Thursday, the day before Christmas Eve, according to SpendingPulse, a MasterCard Advisors report. That’s a 15.4% increase over last year. Six out of the seven weeks since Oct. 31 marked double-digit rises in online spending, with apparel accounting for 18.8% of overall sales online. In 2009, apparel accounted for 16.9% of spending.

Figures may rise even more with the addition of bricks-and-mortar retail sales, according to the MasterCard Advisors report. Shops and malls were crowded; the National Retail Federation expected a 3.3% jump over last year’s spending, to more than $451.5 billion. The year-over-year increase hasn’t been that hefty since 2006; it would also be the biggest total since the record sales figure in 2007 of $452.8 billion.