Where Americans are opening their wallets
Cities like Atlanta, Houston and Orlando helped buoy merchants' coffers in October, according to a snapshot from Mastercard, which looked at retail sales in the 20 largest U.S. metropolitan areas during the first 10 months of the year.
Why it matters: So far it looks like cities that stayed open the most during the pandemic notched bigger gains, according to Mastercard, which tracked all types of transactions (not just credit and debit cards).
By the numbers: Retail sales rose a paltry 0.3% in October, down from 1.6% in September, according to the Commerce Department, which looked at month-over-month sales (Oct. 2020 vs. Oct. 2019) compared with the 10-month-cumulative data examined by Mastercard.
- Mastercard's assessment was rosier: It found a 6% rise in retail sales (excluding gas and auto) for the months through October — perhaps in part because merchants began holiday promotions early.
- Spending was down in two of the 20 metropolitan areas Mastercard examined— Chicago and San Francisco.
Cities that spent the most on...
- Furniture and furnishings: Phoenix, Sacramento, Orlando and Austin.
- Grocery: Atlanta, San Diego, Sacramento, Boston and Seattle.
- Apparel: Orlando, Houston, West Palm Beach and Tampa.
Sob, sniff: Among respondents to an accompanying Harris Poll survey conducted for Mastercard, "most (73%) would give up their gifts altogether to spend face-to-face time with friends and family this holiday season."