Holiday sales during November and December soared 5.5% over the same period in 2016 to $691.9 billion, according to the National Retail Federation.
The results exceeded NRF’s forecast of between $678.75 billion and $682 billion, which would have represented an increase of between 3.6 and 4%.
Ecommerce still leads, with online and other non-store sales climbing 11.5% over the year before, to reach a total of $138.4 billion. NRF had forecast that online and non nonstore sales would grow between 11 and 15% to between $137.7 billion and $142.6 billion.
“Whether they shopped in-store, online or on their phones, consumers were in the mood to spend, and retailers were there to offer them good value for their money,” says NRF President Matthew Shay.
“With this as a starting point and tax cuts putting more money into consumers’ pockets, we are confident that retailers will have a very good year ahead,” he adds “Retail has proven once again that it is the most nimble industry in the economy, able to transform and reinvent itself to meet always-changing consumer demands.”
NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz observes, “Strong employment and more money in consumers’ pockets along with the news of tax cuts clearly helped with the pace of shopping.”
There were increases in every retail category except sporting goods (which was down 0.5%) during the holiday season, defined by NRF as being between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31.
Building materials and supplies stores rose 8.1% unadjusted year-over-year; furniture and home furnishings were up 7.5%; electronics and appliance stores, 6.7%, general merchandise stores, 4.3%; clothing and accessories stores, 2.7%; and health and personal care stores up 2.2%.