Retail stores are ending the year strong. Mastercard says holiday sales were up 9% from 2020 — the biggest annual gain in 17 years.
It's a turnaround so amazing that it makes Joy Hillman — the owner of Mirabella Fashions in Dunedin, Florida — want to cry.
"There was a time during the pandemic in 202 where we really felt like we were going to have to permanently close," Hillman said. "I went on Facebook and said 'if you're going to shop, please shop in Dunedin. Please shop small.'"
Her customers became lifesavers, showing up in force to support her small shop. Now just one year later, Hillman's store is on track to have its best year in business ever.
While holiday sales are up from 2020 as expected, economists say what's even more telling is that retail spending exceeded pre-pandemic levels.
Online shopping also played a huge role in holiday spending, increasing 60% from pre-pandemic levels.
For the first time in a long time, retailers tell us they're enthused about the year ahead.