WASHINGTON–U.S. retail sales during the 2011 holiday season totaled $471.5 billion, up 4.1 percent, according to the National Retail Federation.
NRF said the growth rate surpassed its sales forecast calling for a 3.8 percent increase. “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 Matthew Shay, NRF’s president and CEO.
The NRF figures came along with the U.S. Census Bureau’s monthly retail sales report, which showed that total retail sales in December were $400.6 billion, an increase of 0.1 percent over November and up 6.5 percent over December 2010. December sales at furniture and home furnishings stores rose 1 percent over November and 5.6 percent year over year. At general-merchandise stores, sales fell 0.8 percent from November to December, but increased 2.7 percent over December 2010. Sales at department stores fell 0.2 percent month to month and 1 percent year over year.
NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said, “Though we are seeing evidence that the economy still has a critical hold on consumers’ purchase decisions, (the holiday) strength in spending could continue into 2012.”