PhotoDespite early concerns that consumers weren't in a spending mood this year, it appears U.S. retailers had a pretty good holiday shopping season after all.

MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse shows retail sales grew nearly 8% from last year during the critical period from Black Friday to Christmas Eve. Last year's increase was just 5.5%.

Driving much of the increase were consumers who shunned the malls and instead purchased items from their computers and mobile devices. Online sales were up 20% over last year. was the beneficiary of some of that increase. The online retailer said the holiday season broke records for sales, and also resulted in a surge of new Amazon Prime members.

“This was another great holiday season to be a Prime member, and we welcomed three million new members in the third week of December alone,” said Jeff Bezos, Founder and CEO of “Over 200 million more items shipped for free with Prime this holiday, and members doubled their viewing hours of Prime Video compared to last year with the Amazon Original Series The Man in the High Castle leading the way as the most watched TV season ever on Prime Video.”

Digital in demand

Amazon said it shipped to over 185 countries this year and reported the biggest holiday season ever for sales of Amazon digital devices. In fact, Amazon devices were top-selling products across all of the items available on this holiday season. The top selling device was Fire, while the Fire TV Stick was third.

Stores were crowded over the weekend as many shoppers waited for after-Christmas bargains. Others wasted no time in using the gift cards they received.

A survey by American Express found 57% of consumers expected to shop on December 26. Thirty-five percent said they planned to shop the bargains for themselves, while another 21% said they planned to get a head start on next year.

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