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Reproduced from Mastercard; Note: Online survey conducted October 8-13, 2020 among 2,017 U.S. residents; Chart: Axios Visuals

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."

Go deeper

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
Nov 26, 2020 - Economy & Business

The winners and losers of the pandemic holiday season

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The pandemic has upended Thanksgiving and the shopping season that the holiday kicks off, creating a new crop of economic winners and losers.

The big picture: Just as it has exacerbated inequality in every other facet of American life, the coronavirus pandemic is deepening inequities in the business world, with the biggest and most powerful companies rapidly outpacing the smaller players.

What COVID-19 vaccine trials still need to do

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

COVID-19 vaccines are being developed at record speed, but some experts fear the accelerated regulatory process could interfere with ongoing research about the vaccines.

Why it matters: Even after the first COVID-19 vaccines are deployed, scientific questions will remain about how they are working and how to improve them.

2 hours ago - Podcasts

Faces of COVID creator on telling the stories of those we've lost

America yesterday lost 2,762 people to COVID-19, per the CDC, bringing the total pandemic toll to 272,525. That's more than the population of Des Moines, Iowa. Or Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Or Toledo, Ohio.

Axios Re:Cap speaks with Alex Goldstein, creator of the @FacesofCOVID Twitter account, about sharing the stories behind the statistics.