Holiday sales during November and December increased 5.5 percent over the same period in 2016 to $691.9 billion as growing wages, stronger employment, and higher confidence led consumers to spend more than had been expected, the National Retail Federation said today. The number, which excludes restaurants, automobile dealers, and gasoline stations, includes $138.4 billion in online and other non-store sales, which were up 11.5 percent over the year before.
The results exceeded NRF’s original forecast of between $678.75 billion and $682 billion, which would have been an increase of between 3.6 and 4 percent, and marked the largest increase since the 5.2 percent year-over-year gain seen in 2010 after the end of the Great Recession. December alone was up 0.4 percent seasonally adjusted from November and up 4.6 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
NRF’s numbers are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which reported today that overall December sales—including automobiles, gasoline and restaurants—were up 0.4 percent seasonally adjusted from November and 5.4 percent year-over-year.
There were increases in every retail category except sporting goods during the holiday season, which NRF defines as Nov. 1 through Dec. 31. Specifics from key retail sectors during November and December combined include:
- Building materials and supplies stores increased 8.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
- Furniture and home furnishings stores increased 7.5 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
- Electronics and appliance stores increased 6.7 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
- General merchandise stores increased 4.3 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
- Clothing and accessories stores increased 2.7 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
- Health and personal care stores increased 2.2 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
- Sporting goods stores were down 0.5 percent unadjusted year-over-year.