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Holiday sales rise 3.8%; meet NRF expectations


New York -- Despite severe winter weather travails during the holiday shopping season, the National Retail Federation said Tuesday that December retail sales didn’t take the hit that many feared.

In fact, taking advantage of heavy promotions and last-minute deals, shoppers were able to move the December retail sales needle up 0.4% month-to-month, excluding automobiles, gas stations and restaurants, and up 4.6% year-over-year.

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.

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 Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau, which include categories such as automobiles, gasoline stations, and restaurants, increased 0.2% seasonally adjusted month-to-month, and 4.1% adjusted year-over-year.

Other findings from the December retail sales report include:

• Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers stores’ sales decreased 0.4 % seasonally-adjusted month-to-month yet increased 4.2 % unadjusted year-over-year.

• Clothing and clothing accessories stores' sales increased 1.8 % seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 4.7 % unadjusted year-over-year.

• Electronics and appliance stores’ sales decreased 2.5 % seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 1.5 % unadjusted year-over-year.

• Furniture and home furnishing stores’ sales decreased 0.4 % seasonally-adjusted month-to-month yet increased 5.0 % 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 % unadjusted year-over-year.

• Non-store retailers’ sales increased 1.4 % seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 14 % unadjusted year-over-year.

• Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores’ sales decreased 0.6 % seasonally-adjusted month-to-month yet increased 5.8 % unadjusted year-over-year.

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