Americans were spending more money than usual during the recent holiday season, and inflation may have been a big factor. According to the Mastercard Spending Pulse, which measures in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment, US retail sales excluding automotive increased 7.6 percent year-over-year this holiday season, running from November 1 through December 24.

“This holiday retail season looked different than years past,” says Steve Sadove, senior advisor for Mastercard. “Retailers discounted heavily but consumers diversified their holiday spending to accommodate rising prices and an appetite for experiences and festive gatherings post-pandemic.”

With consumers trending toward experiences, in-person dining at restaurants was up 15.1 percent year-over-year. The holiday season brought consumers out for the holidays, from gathering with co-workers to dining with friends and family.

Another factor benefitting foodservice establishments in addition to all retailers was e-commerce. Online sales were up 10.6 percent compared to the same period last year, making up 21.6 percent of total retail sales. Gift cards were a popular option for the holidays, as were food gifts.

“Inflation altered the way US consumers approached their holiday shopping – from hunting for the best deals to making trade-offs that stretched gift-giving budgets,” says Michelle Meyer, North America chief economist, Mastercard Economics Institute. “Consumers and retailers navigated the season well, displaying resilience amid increasing economic pressures.”