Jan 21, 2020

Holiday Season 2019 Sales Increase by 4.1% Y-o-Y in the US Says NRF

The National Retail Federation of the USA releasing the data for the 2019 Holiday Season retail sales, said that this year they had touched US$730.2 billion; marking a growth of 4.1% over the same period in 2018. (The numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants.) Online and other non-store sales – which are included in the total – increased by 14.6% to reach US$167.8 billion.

“Having spent the last week with top retail leaders from around the world at our annual convention, and spending time at the White House yesterday with government policymakers and economists, these numbers validate continued optimism for increased investment and opportunity in the retail industry,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “This is a consumer-driven economy, and by any measure, the consumer has put the economy in a solid position for continued growth. This is a strong finish to the holiday season, and we think it’s a positive indicator of what’s ahead.”

In October 2019, just prior to the onset of the holiday sales season (which NRF considers to cover the months of November and December), the apex retail body had forecast holiday sales would increase between 3.8%  and 4.2% to a total of between US$727.9 billion and US$730.7 billion. In the same forecast, NRF had posited that online sales would grow between 11% and 14% to between US$162.6 billion and US$166.9 billion.

While the actual growth of holiday retail sales were at the higher end of the forecast spectrum, NRF also noted that the growth rate in 2019  was nearly double the weak 2.1% witnessed during the 2018 holiday season – which was slowed by a government shutdown, stock market volatility and interest rate hikes. Sales during December 2018 were actually down 0.2% from the year before, the organisation pointed out.

“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. “Despite a late Thanksgiving and worries about tariffs, the consumer didn’t go away. We’ve had months of strong employment numbers, high wages and strong household balance sheets. There’s no doubt that gave consumers a sense of confidence about their ability to spend, and they did their part to keep the economy moving.”

Retail sales in December 2019 alone increased 0.5% seasonally adjusted over November and were up 6.7% unadjusted y-o-y, NRF said. November saw a decline of 0.1% month-over-month and an increase of 1.3%  y-o-y. “As of December, the three-month moving average was up 4.1 percent over the same period a year ago, compared with 3.1 percent in November,” NRF  stated.

Kleinhenz clarified that the modest growth in November and the large increase in December came partly because two key days of the Thanksgiving shopping weekend – the Sunday and also Cyber Monday – fell in December this year.

NRF’s numbers are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which stated that overall December sales – including auto dealers, gas stations and restaurants – were up 0.3%   seasonally adjusted from November and up 5.8%  unadjusted year-over-year.