LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The COVID-19 pandemic’s taken a toll on nearly every societal element, but it’s had the exact opposite impact on shopping. Concrete numbers indicate there was a significant boost in sales this year compared to last.

A Mastercard SpendingPulse report indicated American e-commerce sales increased 11% this year, while retail sales rose by 8.5%. This study charted shopping from Nov. 1 to Dec. 24.

“The unemployment rate, we know, has come back down,” said Jeff Cooperstein, a University of Arkansas economist. “People are working, they have money to spend. People are also feeling more confident in going out and spending it.”

Cooperstein said he expects this trend to continue next holiday season.

“Next year, minimum wages are going up in 21 states,” Cooperstein said. “If you know you’re going to be getting paid more in January, there’s a tendency to spend money now.”

Little Rock businesses saw this boom in consumer spending.

A shopper browses items at the Green Corner Store in Little Rock.

“We could see that people were increasing their shopping and everything,” said Nicole Martin, the manager for the Green Corner Store in Little Rock.

The Green Corner Store specializes in organic coffees and teas, and Martin said people tried to support local businesses. The result was high sales.

“It was really nice to see everyone was supporting local,” Martin said.

Martin said the trend brought Christmas cheer to the entire Little Rock business community.

“This year, we definitely saw sales almost to where they were in 2019, which is nice,” Martin said.