Holiday retail sales increased a modest, but respectable 3 percent, according to the National Retail Federation, ending up below the NRF’s projected 4.1 percent with $579.8 billion in sales.
While consumers remained cautious, the solid spending in December helped retailers close out 2012 with a healthy holiday shopping season, up 0.8 percent from November and 2.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
The big winners this holiday season though were non-store, primarily online, retailers who saw sales grow 11.1 percent.
“While non-store retail sales increased a hearty 11 percent this December, total December sales could not make up for shortfalls in certain categories like electronics,” says Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist, the NRF. “Heading into 2013, consumers could continue to think twice about their discretionary purchases as they face decreases in their paychecks and other concerns with their household budgets.”
December retail sales released Tuesday by the U.S. Department of Commerce, showed total retail and food services sales (which, unlike the NRF numbers, include non-general merchandise categories such as automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants) increased 0.5 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and increased 4.7 percent adjusted year-over-year.
Clothing and clothing accessories were up 2.5 percent year-over-year. Furniture and home furnishings were also up (3 percent), as were sales of sporting goods, hobby products, books and music (4.7 percent). Electronics and appliances, and health and personal care categories both decreased.