Department stores surge following report of the best holiday sales in 6 years

  • Shares of department-store chains rallied Tuesday after Mastercard data showed they were having a strong holiday-shopping season.
  • Mastercard SpendingPulse said retail sales (excluding autos) rose 4.9% from November 1 through Christmas Eve, the strongest pace since 2011.
  • Retail stocks have outperformed the broader market late this year.

Shares of large department-store chains jumped in trading on Tuesday following a report indicating that they were seeing strong holiday sales.

Retail sales (excluding automobiles) from November 1 through Christmas Eve rose 4.9% compared with the same period last year, according to data from Mastercard SpendingPulse. That’s the strongest pace since 2011.

The report noted that retailers benefitted from the holiday falling on a Monday, because shoppers had a full weekend to make last-minute purchases.

The lowest unemployment rate in 17 years and strong consumer confidence in the economy are supporting gift buying this year, according to Mastercard.

Here’s how some of the biggest movers are trading at 10:40 a.m. ET:

Retail stocks outperformed the broader market late this year as investor sentiment on the embattled sector improved. Retailers announced more than 8,000 store closings in 2017 amid declining traffic to their physical stores. Online sales have provided the biggest boost this holiday season, according to Mastercard.

Mastercard SpendingPulse had projected on December 15 this holiday shopping season could be the strongest in at least six years. Also, the Commerce Department said earlier in December that US retail sales rose 0.8% in November, more than analysts had forecast. This indicated that the holiday-shopping season was off to a strong start.

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