NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Confident consumers stocked up on holiday gifts and other merchandise over the 2014 holiday season, helping boost overall holiday retail sales to their highest level since 2011. According to the National Retail Federation, December retail sales, which exclude automobiles, gas stations and restaurants, decreased 0.9 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month, and increased 4.6 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
Total holiday retail sales, which include November and December sales, increased 4 percent to $616.1 billion, which was in line with NRF’s projected forecast of 4.1 percent growth. In addition, non-store holiday sales, which is an indicator of online and e-commerce sales, grew 6.8 percent to $101.9 billion.
The U.S. Commerce Department, which does include gasoline, said on Wednesday that December retail sales decreased 0.9 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and increased 3.2 percent unadjusted year-over-year. The significant drop in gasoline prices in the month of December brought down much of the month-to-month growth.
“Today’s holiday retail sales results are welcome news for our industry and for our economy. There is every reason to believe that we have moved well beyond the days of consumer pessimism and that the trajectory for retailers continues to point up,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “We are fortunate to represent a resilient industry with business leaders who are committed to providing the best value to their customers. A successful holiday for retail sales is extremely important, but the work to build upon and grow that success never ends.”
“Preliminary holiday results affirm our initial belief that consumers going into the holiday season had the spending power necessary to give retail the shot in the arm it needed," said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. "While December’s figures are disappointing, holiday sales in 2014 are the best we've seen since 2011. We remain positive about the future and expect to see consumers continue to benefit from the extra income gained from an improved job market and the dramatic fall in gas prices. It is important to recognize that December is a very difficult month to adjust for seasonal forces because of holiday spending and this could explain in part this month’s volatility."
Additional findings from NRF’s analysis found that:
Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers:
- -1.9% month-to-month
- +7.3% year-over-year
Clothing and clothing accessories stores:
- -0.3% month-to-month
- +4.4% year-over-year
Electronics and appliance stores:
- -1.6% month-to-month
- +7.0% year-over-year
Furniture and home furnishing stores:
- +0.8% month-to-month
- +8.1% year-over-year
General merchandise stores:
- -0.9% month-to-month
- +0.9% year-over-year
Health and personal care stores:
- +0.5% month-to-month
- +8.2% year-over-year
Online and other nonstore retailers:
- -3.3% month-to-month
- +7.7% year-over-year
Sporting goods, hobby, book & music stores:
- -0.2% month-to-month
- +7.2% year-over-year
NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and Internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. Retail is the nation’s largest private sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs – 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.6 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy. NRF’s This is Retail campaign highlights the industry’s opportunities for life-long careers, how retailers strengthen communities, and the critical role that retail plays in driving innovation. NRF.com