2017 Holiday Sales Exceed Expectations

This year’s holiday sales results also marked the largest increase year-over-year since 2010 after the end of the Great Recession.

NORTH AMERICA–Holiday retail sales (excluding restaurants, automobiles and gas stations) during November and December increased 5.5 percent to $691.9 billion compared to the same period last year, according to the National Retail Federation.

This year’s results exceed the NRF’s holiday sales forecast, which was between $678.75 billion and $682 billion and would have been an increase of between 3.6 and 4 percent. This year’s results also marked the largest increase since 2010 after the end of the Great Recession.

In addition, this year’s total sales number includes $138.4 billion in online and other non-store sales, which were up 11.5 percent over the year prior.

“We knew going in that retailers were going to have a good holiday season but the results are even better than anything we could have hoped for, especially given the misleading headlines of the past year,” says Matthew Shay, president and chief executive officer, NRF. “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. 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.”

The NRF also reported that December retail sales alone were up 0.4 percent seasonally adjusted from November and up 5.4 percent unadjusted year-over-year. There were also increases in every retail category, except sporting goods, during the holiday season. Specifics include:

  • Building materials and supplies stores increased 8.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores were up 7.5 percent over last year.
  • Electronics and appliance stores increased 6.7 percent year-over-year.
  • General merchandise stores increased 4.3 percent from 2016.
  • Clothing and accessories stores were up 2.7 percent over last year.
  • Health and personal care stores increased 2.2 percent year-over-year.
  • Sporting goods stores were down 0.5 percent compared to 2016.

“The economy was in great shape going into the holiday season, and retailers had the right mix of inventory, pricing and staffing to help them connect with shoppers very efficiently,” says Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist, NRF. “Strong employment and more money in consumers’ pockets along with the news of tax cuts clearly helped with the pace of shopping. The market conditions were right, retailers were doing what they know how to do, and it all worked. We think the willingness to spend and growing purchasing power seen during the holidays will be key drivers of the 2018 economy.”

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