Holiday sales climbed 5.5% in 2017 over 2016—a year-over-year gain that hasn’t been seen since the Great Recession.
“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,” said Matthew Shay, president and chief executive officer of the Washington, D.C.-based National Retail Federation.
U.S. retailers registered $691.9 billion in holiday sales in November and December. Growing wages, stronger employment and higher consumer confidence put shoppers in a buying mood, according to the NRF, which in the fall had predicted an increase in holiday sales between 3.6% and 4%. (NRF retail sales numbers exclude money spent at restaurants, automobile dealers and gas stations.)
Online and “other nonstore sales” during holiday 2017 were up 11.5% over 2016.
“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,” Shay said. “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 reported increases in every retail category except sporting goods during the holiday season, which it defines as Nov. 1 through Dec. 31. Looking at some specific retailer categories, furniture and home furnishings stores saw year-over-year gains of 7.5%, general merchandise stores recorded increases of 4.3% and electronics/appliance stores enjoyed sales bumps of 6.7%.