(Reuters) (Reuters) American shoppers flocked to brick-and mortar stores this holiday season, with especially high sales in several states where the percentage of complete vaccinations against COVID-19 disease is less than 60%, according to an analysis of Mastercard Inc holiday sales data.
The highly contagious Omicron coronavirus variant grew rapidly around the halfway point of the $800 billion U.S. holiday shopping season. Despite concerns, many holiday shoppers in the United States visited stores from November to Black Friday and Saturday before Christmas.
Arkansas, Kentucky and West Virginia and West Virginia, all of which are less than 55% fully-vaccinated against COVID-19, were among the states with the highest sales growth between Nov. 1 and Dec. 24 over the previous year, according to the Mastercard data provided exclusively to Reuters.
In each of these states, in-store holiday sales rose by more than 10%. In all, sales in stores increased by 8.1% according to Mastercard.
Consumers went out shopping because they had no concerns about getting infected and saw no risk when they did so, said David Marcotte, a senior vice president at retail consultancy firm Kantar.
“I do not believe it was to make a statement or because they lack e-commerce access. I’m in Arizona The relationship between wearing a mask, vaccinations and perception of risk influence shopping,” he said.
In Idaho which is the least-vaccinated U.S. state according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – brick-and-mortar sales rose between 6% and 8%.
According to Forrester analyst Sucharita Kodali “Those states tend have more libertarian tendencies than they have been about being out and about.”
In-store sales growth was less in some areas of the East Coast where vaccine rates are amongst the highest in the nation. In New York, where about 72% of people are fully vaccinated and vaccinated, sales increased by 5 to 6 percent during the holidays. Omicron is particularly detrimental to New York.
According to Mastercard information, bricks and mortar sales in Illinois increased between 9-10 percent and 64%, respectively, an area where only 64% of residents are fully vaccine-free.
“Because there were so many delays with shipping people were worried about the possibility of things not being available, so they went out to buy it,” Katherine Nguyen, Chicago toy store owner, said. She saw more customers than usual during the holiday season.
“I have not seen this much revenue or traffic in the last 25 years. Nguyen stated that she has not seen this kind of growth before and added that Omicron has two employees in the home. However this has not had any effect on foot traffic for consumers.
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