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Retail Sales Grow 7.9 Percent in December

Posted on January 14, 2011 by HFN Staff

WASHINGTON-U.S. retail sales capped a strong holiday season with a 7.9 percent year-over-year increase in December, totaling $380.9 billion on an adjusted basis, according to figures from the U.S. Census Bureau.

The strong pace, however, did not help retail channels that carry home goods. Sales at furniture and home-furnishings stores advanced just 1.4 percent year over year last month, while sales at general-merchandise stores grew 2.8 percent. Inside the latter category, department stores (excluding leased departments) actually saw their December sales drop 1.3 percent.

Looking at the overall picture, the National Retail Federation said holiday-season sales (November through December) rose 5.7 percent on an unadjusted basis--the biggest gain in holiday sales since 2004 and well ahead of NRF's forecast of a 3.3 percent increase.

"In spite of weakness in employment and rising gas prices, consumers showed they still have spending power which helped retailers when it counted most," said Matthew Shay, president and chief executive officer of NRF. "Retailers did a tremendous job planning for the season by managing inventory and hitting the right price points that helped them tap into pent-up demand."