Retailers had a successful holiday season, with sales in general growing 6.2% in 2017, the highest in four years.
Retail was up 5.4% across the entire spending season, outdoing last year's 3.6% growth, according to First Data, a commerce-enabling technology company. And the big winner was e-commerce, accounting for 29% of all transactions, up from 26% in 2016.
According to Glenn Fodor, senior VP, head of information and analytics solutions at First Data, a variety of factors contributed to the great season, including low unemployment and high consumer confidence.
Standout categories included electronics and appliances, and building materials, which grew 8.3% and 6.9% respectively. The only category with a decline was sporting goods, down 0.6%.
Although online sales increased, it was mostly in regards to smaller-ticket items. The average sale bill for brick-and-mortar was $68.57, while online was $103.49. However, the average e-commerce ticket in 2016 was $105.73, suggesting that more consumers are using online channels to purchase everyday items.
Even for those items purchased in-store, many of them were influenced by online research and reviews. According to another recent study by Bazaarvoice, as many as 45% of all physical store shoppers read online reviews before making a purchase, a 15% increase from last year.
The city with the largest growth during the holiday season was Houston, with a 10.9% increase, due in large part to rebuilding post-hurricane season. Specifically, building materials sales grew 31% and furniture sales jumped 22%.
While every region experienced growth, the Southwest and New England regions had the most growth, up 5.7% and 5.5%, respectively.