NEW YORK - The MasterCard network's net settlement dollar volume between Thanksgiving and Christmas totaled $11.3 billion, 23.6% more than a year ago, MasterCard International said Monday.

The New York-based card association's indicator of consumer purchases, known as the Smart Money Watch, showed increases that varied according to retailing category.

The strongest categories from Nov. 26 through Dec. 24 were department stores, registering $1.757 billion, up 32.43% over the 1992 period; mail order, at $1.553 billion, up 28.72%; and discount stores, reaching $1.025 billion, up 29.07%.

"Other retail stores," a general category including small retail outlets, food stores, appliance stores, etc., also turned in a strong showing, with 24.72% growth, to $5.803 billion.

Clothing stores held steady at $1.189 billion.

In the seven shopping days before Christmas, settlement volume in the mail order and discount categories soared 61.46% and 51.30%, respectively.

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