Like a good little elf, I started Christmas shopping in October. But despite my weekly purchases all the way through Super Saturday and Sunday, retail sales were reportedly sluggish throughout the holiday season.

People noticed that the malls weren’t quite as manic on Black Friday. Maybe because “Black Friday” deals stretched into early November or perhaps because significantly more people were shopping online.

Like many, my holiday shopping included a combination of in-store and online purchases, gifts for others and items for myself. I shopped with my phone in hand, often checking both prices and reviews when I was in a store or late-night browsing before bed.

Without a sleigh of my own and with family scattered across the country, the convenience of buying online and shipping directly to recipients provided an added bonus of skipping the lines at the post office to mail presents.

Yet, hours before the clock struck Christmas, there was strong doubt that retailers would hit the 3.7% rise forecasted by the National Retail Federation for in-store and online sales.

On Christmas Eve, Reuters reported “U.S. retailers at risk of missing modest holiday sales goals.”

Santa must have needed some last-minute gifts because the numbers reported this week – with Christmas Day behind us – reveal a sort of spending miracle (and proof that I wasn’t the only one shopping).

Holiday spending is up, and online shopping was a winner,” declared the Boston Globe.

Retail sales were up 7.9% – more than double what was expected – according to data released by MasterCard SpendingPulse, which does not reveal dollars spent.

Not surprising, online retailers ended up on the Nice List with a 20% surge in sales compared to the same Black-Friday-to-Christmas-Eve timeframe as last year, according to the SpendingPulse report.

It seems Santa likes the convenience of online shopping, too.

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