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NRF says holiday retail sales were up (but sporting goods were down)

Published January 13, 2017
Online sales up 12.6 percent.

WASHINGTON (BRAIN) — The National Retail Federation said Friday that the most recent holiday retail sales were up 4 percent, with "non-store" sales up 12.6 percent to $122.9 billion.

The numbers exclude automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants.

December was up 0.2 percent seasonally adjusted from November and 3.2 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

"These numbers show that the nation's slow-but-steady economic recovery is picking up speed and that consumers feel good about the future," said NRF's president and CEO, Matthew Shay. "Retail mirrors the economy. And while there might have been some bumps in the road for individual companies, the retail industry overall had a solid holiday season and retailers will work to sustain this in the year ahead."

"There has been a lot of talk about online versus in-store retail in the past few months, but that comes from people who don't realize that online and retail today are the same thing," Shay said. "In the new distributed commerce world that allows consumers to buy any product, anytime, anywhere, it really doesn't matter whether a customer shops in a company's store or on its website or mobile app. It's all retail. Today's retailers sell to shoppers any way they want to buy."

"The economy was clearly stronger in the fall and consumers were more active during the holiday season than they had been earlier in the year," NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said. "Economic indicators were up, retailers offered great deals, confidence improved, and all of that empowered consumers to spend more."

Kleinhenz noted that average hourly earnings were up in 2016 over 2015, job gains remained strong and unemployment, although up slightly in December from November, remained low. Home values have also increased and the rising stock market has increased the value of consumers' investments.

NRF's numbers are based on data from the U.S. Commerce Department, which said Friday that overall December sales — including automobiles, gas stations and restaurants — were up 0.6 percent seasonally adjusted from November and 4.4 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

There were monthly increases in furniture and furnishing and clothing and accessories during November and December despite declines in other categories. Other details reported by the Commerce Department include:

  • Furniture and furnishing; 4.8%
  • Electronics: -2.3%
  • Building materials and supplies:4.5%
  • Health and personal care: 6.7%
  • Clothing and accessories: 2.5%
  • Sporting goods: -1.7%
  • General merchandise: -1.5%
  • Non-store; 12.6%
  • Department stores: -7.0%
  • Food and beverage: 3.6%

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