Mastercard report suggests rising sales figures may be a myth

PURCHASE, N.Y. — Rising prices are behind some of the sales increases in June, according to Mastercard’s monthly SpendingPulse report.

The report, which measures in-store and online sales across all forms of payments, notes that U.S. consumer retail spending, excluding automotive, increased 9.5% year-over-year in June, while retail sales excluding auto and gas jumped 6.1%. While on the surface those figures would indicate a growing economy, Mastercard notes that the report is not adjusted for inflation, so these figures don’t tell the full story.

consumer retail spendingFurniture and home furnishings sales jumped 4.2% year-over-year, and 21.5% compared with pre-pandemic levels from June 2019.

Looking at June 2022 compared with three years ago, the retail snapshot minus automotive shows a sales increase of 20.8%, or 17.1% when excluding auto and gas sales. E-commerce is up 97.6% vs. June 2021, while in-store sales were up 10.7% vs. pre-pandemic levels.

Excluding auto and gas, in-store spending is up 11.7% year-over-year in June. E-commerce spending increased 1.1% vs. 2021 levels. Mastercard said nominal spending growth is down slightly compared with May, though it remains consistent with growth levels seen earlier in 2022.

“Sector by sector, we’re seeing a varied picture of how inflation is impacting essential vs. discretionary consumer spending,” said Steve Sadove, senior advisor for Mastercard and former CEO and chairman of Saks Incorporated.

Two of the categories that have higher inflation have seen a lift in sales, as Mastercard notes that consumers are paying more for essentials: June sales for fuel and convenience are up 42.1% compared with 2021, while grocery is up 14.1% compared with June last year.

Lodging (up 33.7%), air travel (18.2%), jewelry (16.2%) and apparel (13.1%) also showed double-digit increases in year-over-year sales.

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Thomas Lester is Retail Editor for Furniture Today and Digital/Managing Editor for Home Accents Today. A graduate of Emory & Henry College’s Mass Communications program, Lester spent a dozen years working for newspapers in Virginia and North Carolina covering an array of subjects, ranging from community news, government, education, ACC sports, professional baseball and more before joining Furniture Today in 2013. Reach out to me with your story ideas, tips and more at

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