Despite weather’s influence across the country and a deflationary retail environment, NRF has reported that holiday sales in 2015 increased 3% to $626.1 billion. This fell short of NRF’s previous forecast for total growth, including online sales, of 3.7%. Non-store holiday sales grew 9% to $105 billion, NRF said.
According to the NRF, December retail sales, which exclude automobiles, gas stations and restaurants, decreased 0.2% seasonally adjusted from November and increased 3.1% unadjusted on a year-over-year basis. As for the U.S. Commerce Department, NRF said, it reported that December retail sales decreased 0.2% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and increased 2.2% unadjusted year-over-year.
“Make no mistake about it, this was a tough holiday season for the industry. Weather, inventory challenges, advances in consumer technology and the deep discounts that started earlier in the season and that have carried into January presented stiff headwinds as retailers competed with one another and their own bottom line,” said Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO. “Despite these factors, the industry rallied, consumers responded and sales still grew at a healthy rate.”
“A double whammy of deflation and December weather constricted holiday sales growth as well as consumer spending,” said Jack Kleinhenz, NRF chief economist. “The results of December’s retail sales remind us just how significant of an impact unusual weather can have on retail and overall economic activity.”
Kleinhenz added, “While the timing is uncertain, there are positive prospects for improvement, including recent job gains that will help lift income and earnings, and a healthy housing market that should provide some support for spending in various retail sectors.”