Washington, January 14, 2011 - Even though consumers spent most of 2010 on the sidelines, retailers found a way to tap into pent up demand when it counted the most. According to the National Retail Federation, retail industry sales (which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) for December rose 5.3 percent unadjusted year-over-year and 0.5 percent seasonally adjusted from November.
As a result, preliminary 2010 holiday sales, which combine the full months of November and December, rose 5.7 percent to $462 billion, surpassing NRF's forecast of 3.3 percent. This represents the best holiday sales gain since 2004 when holiday sales increased 5.9 percent.
“In spite of weakness in employment and rising gas prices, consumers showed they still have spending power which helped retailers when it counted most,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “Retailers did a tremendous job planning for the season by managing inventory and hitting the right price points that helped them tap into pent up demand.”
“While the worst appears to be behind us, we are not out of the woods yet,” said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. “This latest step-up in growth is a spark for increased business spending and hiring.”
December retail sales released today by the U.S. Commerce Department show total retail sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations and restaurants) increased 0.6 percent seasonally adjusted over November and 8.3 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
Sales growth from November varied in strength while year-over-year sales showed great strength. Sales at clothing and clothing accessory stores decreased 0.2 percent seasonally adjusted over last month but increased a solid 8.4 percent unadjusted year-over-year. Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores sales increased 0.4 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 8.2 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
Though the US is still dealing with a weak housing environment, building material and garden equipment stores sales showed notable gains, increasing 1.9 seasonally adjusted over last month and a strong year-over-year growth of 12.0 percent.
Electronics and appliance stores sales decreased 0.6 percent seasonally adjusted over November but increased 1.4 percent unadjusted year-over-year. Sales at health and personal care stores 1.6 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 7.2 percent unadjusted over December 2009.
As the world's largest retail trade association and the voice of retail worldwide, the National Retail Federation's global membership includes retailers of all sizes, formats and channels of distribution as well as chain restaurants and industry partners from the U.S. and more than 45 countries abroad. In the U.S., NRF represents the breadth and diversity of an industry with more than 1.6 million American companies that employ nearly 25 million workers and generated 2009 sales of $2.3 trillion. www.nrf.com.
* NRF classifies holiday sales as sales in the months of November and December.