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US holiday season sales up 1.1%
Jan '10
In the end, retailers got the best Christmas present of all: a holiday season of gains, not losses. After a year that saw holiday sales decrease by 3.4 percent, retailers bounced back in 2009. According to the National Retail Federation, retail industry sales (which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) for December rose 2.3 percent unadjusted year-over-year and fell 0.5 percent seasonally adjusted from November.*

As a result, preliminary 2009 holiday sales, which combine the full months of November and December, rose 1.1 percent to $446.8 billion, surpassing NRF's projected decline of 1.0 percent.

"With an eye on managing inventory and maintaining lower price points, retailers did a tremendous job of planning for the holiday season," said NRF Chief Economist Rosalind Wells. "While the consumer appears to be spending again, double digit unemployment numbers will remain an impediment to maintaining this momentum."

Apparel was a big driver for retailers as clothing and clothing accessories stores for December increased 7.0 percent year-over-year and dipped 0.6 percent from November. Sporting goods, hobby, book & music stores also performed well with December sales increasing 3.9 percent
from last year and up 1.6 percent month-to-month. Health and personal care stores continue to be a bright spot in retail with year-over-year December sales increasing 4.8 percent and monthly gains of 0.8 percent.

The weak housing market continues to impact the sale of home furnishings with December sales of furniture and home furnishing stores decreasing 3.5 percent from December 2009 though increasing a slight 0.3 percent from the previous month.

*All year-over-year numbers are unadjusted and month-to-month comparisons are seasonally adjusted.

National Retail Federation

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