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Holiday sales keep pace with NRF expectations

Results mixed for home furnishings and furniture stores

Shoppers braved severe weather in many parts of the country to take advantage of heavy promotions and last-minute deals for holidays gifts and merchandise, lifting December retail sales by 0.4% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 4.6 % unadjusted year-over-year, according to the National Retail Federation.

The results exclude automobiles, gas stations and restaurants

Home furnishings and furniture stores reported mixed results, with sales down 0.4% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month but up 5.0% unadjusted year-over-year.



Total holiday retail sales for November and December combined rose 3.8% to $601.8 billion - in line with NRF's projected forecast of 3.9% and $602.1 billion.

In addition, non-store holiday sales an indicator of online and e-commerce sales, grew 9.3% to $95.7 billion.

"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," said Matthew Shay, NRF president and ceo.

December retail sales released today by the U.S. Census Bureau - which include sales of automobiles, gasoline stations, and restaurants - increased 0.2% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 4.1% adjusted year-over-year.

Some of the increase came at the expense of margin, noted Jack Kleinhenz, NRF chief economist.

"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."



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.


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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