The 2017 Holiday Season Could Be the Start of Retail’s Big Comeback

December 26, 2017, 9:34 PM UTC

Americans go to retail stores each year to acquire holiday gifts. But this year, shoppers are also giving a gift back to retailers: hope for the future.

According to a Mastercard SpendingPulse report released on Tuesday—the day after Christmas—U.S. retail spending, excluding the automotive category, was up 4.9% in 2017 compared to the same period last year. Some of the largest jumps were seen in electronics and appliances (7.5%), jewelry (5.9%), and home furnishings and home improvement (5.1%).

“Overall, this year was a big win for retail,” said Sarah Quinlan, senior vice president of marketing insights at Mastercard, in a statement following the report.

The analysis, which was based on information collected from both online and offline retailers, attributed the good news to increases in early sales; sales in the first three weeks of November were 18% higher than they were in the same period in 2016.

Investors appear to have taken notice. Stock prices over the past month have risen in double digits for retailers like Kohl’s (19%), Macy’s (21%), Target (17%), and Ralph Lauren (10%), compared to just a 3% overall rise in the S&P 500.

While news headlines were eager to pronounce a retail apocalypse in 2017, the reality was different. Some large retailers were indeed forced to shutter stores and others filed for bankruptcy. But many other companies successfully adapted to shifting consumer preferences to compete with Amazon. Indeed, as Fortune’s own Phil Wahba noted: the death of retail is greatly exaggerated.

With nearly a week remaining until New Year’s Day, this booming holiday season could send retailers into 2018 with an optimism that has been sorely lacking in the industry.

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