Holiday sales were up 4.1 percent, beating expectations and providing more positive news for the economy.
Combined sales of $471.5 billion in November and December surpassed the National Retail Federation’s forecast of 3.8 percent growth.
The growth is a result of pent-up demand and confidence in the economy. People haven’t spent much money in the past few years and now — with a boost in employment — they’re out spending again.
That’s good news for retailers, who will be able to hire more people and open more stores, both of which should help the economy.
“The right mix of strong promotions, lean inventories and an emphasis on value put retailers in the perfect position to end the year on a high note,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “A better-than-expected holiday season is welcome news for an economic recovery that continues to be sluggish, and demonstrates retail’s powerful role as an engine of growth.”
Consumers spending increased for discretionary gift items in December, including sporting goods, books, home decor items and personal care items. Even with warmer than expected weather, apparel sales were also up.
Electronics and appliance sales were up in November, but fell again in December.
Increased sales on home furnishings, sporting goods and clothing represent further proof that people are feeling better about the economy.
“Though we are seeing evidence that the economy still has a critical hold on consumers’ purchase decisions, this strength in spending could continue into 2012,” said Jack Kleinhenz, NRF’s chief economist.
Source: National Retail Federation, January 2012