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Holiday Sales Rise Amid Positive Sentiment

Jan 20, 2020 8:43 AM   By Rapaport News
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RAPAPORT... US retail sales increased 4.1% during the recent holiday season amid steady consumer confidence, the National Retail Federation (NRF) said.

Total sales for the November-to-December period were $730.2 billion, according to the NRF, which bases its numbers on figures from the US Census Bureau. That total came in at the higher end of the NRF’s forecast of $727.9 billion to $730.7 billion. The number also compared favorably to the previous year, which was affected by a government shutdown, stock-market volatility, and interest-rate hikes, the organization explained last week.

“This was a healthy holiday season, especially compared with the decline in retail sales we saw at the end of the season in 2018,” said NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz. “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.”

Online sales grew 14.6% to $167.8 billion, according to the government data. That figure exceeded the $162.6 billion to $166.9 billion the NRF had forecast.

Sales in December alone increased 7% year on year, while those in November rose 1.3%. The larger rise in December was due to the later Thanksgiving date, which pushed two key shopping days — the Sunday after Thanksgiving, and Cyber Monday — into December, Kleinhenz explained.

“These numbers validate continued optimism for increased investment and opportunity in the retail industry,” said NRF CEO Matthew Shay. “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.”

Image: A couple shopping at a mall. (Shutterstock)
Tags: cyber monday, holiday sales, Jack Kleinhenz, Matthew Shay, National Retail Federation, NRF, Rapaport News, US Census Bureau
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