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Consumers took full advantage of heavy promotions and last-minute deals this holiday season, leading to an increase in December retail sales of 0.4 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 4.6 percent unadjusted year-over-year, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).
Total holiday retail sales, which include November and December, increased 3.8 percent to $601.8 billion, which aligned with NRF’s projected forecast of 3.9 percent and $602.1 billion. In addition, non-store holiday sales, which is an indicator of online and e-commerce sales, grew 9.3 percent to $95.7 billion.
According to Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO, these holiday sales numbers “are a testament to a resilient industry,” as retailers found much success despite this year’s severe weather and shaky consumer confidence.
“Considering that retail sales are an important barometer when measuring the overall health of our national economy, this report provides a level of true optimism that the recovery is picking up steam, and once again, retail leads the way,” Shay added.
December retail sales, released today by the U.S. Census Bureau, which include categories such as automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants, increased 0.2 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 4.1 percent adjusted year-over-year.
“Retail sales have been volatile all year and the holiday shopping season was no exception,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “Solid job growth in the months of October and November led to a more-confident consumer and healthy holiday shopping season for many retailers. While economic and policy uncertainties remain, the economy seems set for steady growth in the New Year.”
Additional findings from NRF's retail sales report
- Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers stores’ sales decreased 0.4 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month yet increased 4.2 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
- Clothing and clothing accessories stores' sales increased 1.8 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 4.7 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
- Electronics and appliance stores’ sales decreased 2.5 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 1.5 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
- Furniture and home furnishing stores’ sales decreased 0.4 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month yet increased 5 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
- General merchandise stores’ sales were flat seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and flat unadjusted year-over-year.
- Health and personal care stores’ sales increased 0.6 seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 5.9 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
- Nonstore retailers’ sales increased 1.4 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 14 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
- Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores’ sales decreased 0.6 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month yet increased 5.8 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and Internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries.