Retail holiday sales increase 3 percent

Holiday sales in 2015 increased 3 percent to $626.1 billion — solid growth considering the unforeseen weather events across the country and an extreme deflationary retail environment. NRF forecasted total growth, including online sales, of 3.7 percent. Non-store holiday sales grew 9 percent to $105 billion.

According to the National Retail Federation, December retail sales, which exclude automobiles, gas stations and restaurants, decreased 0.2 percent seasonally adjusted from November and increased 3.1 percent unadjusted on a year-over-year basis.

“Make no mistake about it, this was a tough holiday season for the industry. Weather, inventory challenges, advances in consumer technology and the deep discounts that started earlier in the season and that have carried into January presented stiff headwinds as retailers competed with one another and their own bottom line,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “Despite these factors, the industry rallied, consumers responded and sales still grew at a healthy rate, which is a huge testament to the resilience, knowledge and expertise of our retail leadership.”

“While some will attempt to diminish this positive outcome, the fact remains that retail continues to play an important role in growing our economy,” continued Shay. “This holiday season has proven once again that the industry can quickly and successfully respond to a rapidly-changing and challenging sales environment in order to achieve continued year-over-year growth.”

“A double whammy of deflation and December weather constricted holiday sales growth as well as consumer spending,” said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. “The results of December’s retail sales remind us just how significant of an impact unusual weather can have on retail and overall economic activity.”

“While the timing is uncertain there are positive prospects for improvement, including recent job gains that will help lift income and earnings, and a healthy housing market that should provide some support for spending in various retail sectors.”

The U.S. Commerce Department said on Friday that December retail sales decreased 0.2 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and increased 2.2 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

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