(IDEX Online) - Holiday retail sales grew 4.1 percent year-over-year to $730.2 billion, reported the National Retail Federation (NRF). This result is in line with the NRF's October forecast that sales would rise between 3.8 percent and 4.2 percent for a total of between $727.9 billion and $730.7 billion.
That forecast also called for online sales to increase between 11 percent and 14 percent to between $162.6 billion and $166.9 billion. In fact, online and other non-store sales were up 14.6 percent over 2018 at $167.8 billion.
The 2019 holiday growth rate is nearly double the weak 2.1 percent seen during the 2018 holiday season, which was slowed by a government shutdown, stock market volatility and interest rate hikes. Sales during December 2018 were down 0.2 percent from the year before.
"This is a consumer-driven economy, and by any measure, the consumer has put the economy in a solid position for continued growth. This is a strong finish to the holiday season, and we think it's a positive indicator of what's ahead," said Matthey Shay, NRF president and CEO.
"This was a healthy holiday season, especially compared with the decline in retail sales we saw at the end of the season in 2018," added Jack Kleinhenz, NRF chief economist. "Despite a late Thanksgiving and worries about tariffs, the consumer didn't go away. We've had months of strong employment numbers, high wages and strong household balance sheets. There's no doubt that gave consumers a sense of confidence about their ability to spend, and they did their part to keep the economy moving."
Retail sales in December 2019 alone increased 0.5 percent seasonally adjusted over November and were up 6.7 percent unadjusted year-over-year....