Holidays Bolster Retail Sales in December

       

       

WASHINGTON-U.S. retail sales ended the holiday season by registering $415.7 billion in sales in December (on an adjusted basis), 0.5 percent ahead of November sales and 4.7 percent greater than December 2011, according to the monthly retail sales report from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The retail channels that offer home merchandise presented mixed results last month. Sales at furniture and home furnishings stores posted a 1.4 percent gain over November and an increase of 6.1 percent over December of last year. Sales at general merchandise stores were flat month to month and lost 2 percent from last year’s December. Sales at department stores (excluding leased departments) picked up 0.3 percent from November but fell 1.7 percent versus a year ago.

In a statement about the results, the National Retail Federation attributed the sales increases to “solid consumer spending,” even though consumers were cautious due to the prevailing uncertainties in the economy. Matthew Shay, the trade group’s president and CEO, said issues such as the economy’s slow growth and the fiscal cliff had “a visible impact on consumer spending this holiday season.”

Jack Kleinhenz, NRF’s chief economist, said, “Heading into 2013, consumers could continue to think twice about their discretionary purchases as they face decreases in their paychecks and other concerns with their household budgets.”