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NRF: Holiday retail sales growth right on target Print Email
Written by Jeremy Burns   
Tuesday, 14 January 2014 05:00 PM America/New_York

MatthewShay-NRF-WebSevere winter weather did not dampen December retail sales as shoppers took advantage of heavy promotions and last-minute deals. December retail sales, which excludes automobiles, gas stations and restaurants, increased 0.4% seasonally adjusted month-to-month, and 4.6% unadjusted year-over-year, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).

Total holiday retail sales, which includes November and December sales, increased 3.8% to $601.8 billion, which was in line with NRF’s projected forecast of 3.9% and $602.1 billion. In addition, non-store holiday sales, which is an indicator of online and e-commerce sales, grew 9.3% to $95.7 billion.

“Despite facing a truncated holiday season, severe weather and shaky consumer confidence, retailers rose to the challenge and executed their strategies with proven success,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Today’s holiday sales numbers are a testament to a resilient industry that knows what their customers want, when they want it and how they want to get it. 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.”

December retail sales, released Jan. 14 by the U.S. Census Bureau, which includes categories such as automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants, increased 0.2% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 4.1% adjusted year-over-year.

The category including book, music, hobby and sporting goods stores decreased 0.6% seasonally adjusted month-to-month, yet increased 5.8% unadjusted 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.

“Undoubtedly, some of the increase came at the expense of margin,” added Kleinhenz. “Retailers are still stressed and a long-term promotional environment may actually hurt the bottom line. As consumer confidence grows, there will be less need for retailers to heavily promote and discount their offerings.”