What a difference a day makes

By now you’ve probably heard how the holiday shopping season shaped up for retailers. We won’t bore you with all the details.

Suffice it to say:

A late rally of shopping boosted total retail sales to 3.6 percent over last year. But before you start celebrating the economic recovery, keep in mind that last year’s sales were dismal. Down 3.4 percent. The worst in decades.

Still, an increase is an increase, especially when some forecasters predicted a slight decline in sales this year.

But here’s what’s really interesting:

Without an extra day of shopping between Thanksgiving and Christmas, the increase in sales would only have been 1 percent, according to MasterCard which tracks spending trends through its SpendingPulse unit.