NRF Says Christmas Sales As Forecast

The severe weather did not reduce December retail sales in the United States as shoppers took advantage of heavy promotions and last-minute deals, the National Retail Federation (NRF) reported.
Retail sales in December, not including automobiles, gas stations and restaurants, rose 0.4 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month, and 4.6 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
The total holiday retail sales for November and December, rose 3.8 percent to $601.8 billion, in line with the NRF’s projected forecast of a 3.9-percent rise and sales of $602.1 billion. In addition, non-store holiday sales, which is a sign of online and e-commerce sales, increased by 9.3 percent 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,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay.
“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 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.
“Undoubtedly, some of the increase came at the expense of margin. Retailers are still stressed and a long-term promotional environment may actually hurt the bottom line,” said Kleinhenz.  “As consumer confidence grows, there will be less need for retailers to heavily promote and discount their offerings.”