U.S. holiday sales rise 4.1% in 2019 on strong online sales: NRF

January 16, 2020

(Reuters) – U.S. holiday sales rose 4.1% in 2019 from a year earlier, as steady wage and jobs growth encouraged shoppers to splurge on groceries, beverages and furniture, the National Retail Federation (NRF) said https://bit.ly/2tqKJRv on Thursday.

The U.S. retail group said holiday sales, excluding automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants, rose to $730.2 billion, largely above the midpoint of its forecast of 3.8% to 4.2% growth, and up from a modest 2.1% growth last year.

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

Online and non-store sales rose 14.6%, well above NRF’s forecast of 11% to 14% increase, marking at least the fourth consecutive year of double-digit gains. Sales of beverage, grocery and furniture also posted strong growth.

(Graphic: Holiday cheer for e-commerce click, https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/editorcharts/USA-HOLIDAY%20SHOPPING-NRF/0H001QXX0BGX/eikon.png)

For an interactive graphic, click here: https://fingfx.thomsonreuters.com/gfx/editorcharts/USA-HOLIDAY%20SHOPPING-NRF/0H001QXX0BGV/index.html

NRF numbers are based on data from the U.S. Commerce Department, which on Thursday said overall December sales, including auto dealers, gas stations and restaurants, rose 0.3% from November and 5.8% from the same period last year.

The holiday shopping season accounts for up to 40% of annual sales for retailers. However, this year, it was cut short by six days as Thanksgiving Day, which traditionally kicks off the shopping period, fell on Nov. 28.

“Despite a late Thanksgiving and worries about tariffs, the consumer didn’t go away,” Kleinhenz said.

(Reporting by Praveen Paramasivam in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni)