Overall Holiday Sales Strong, Despite December Dip (Jan. 15, 2015)
Overall sales from the holiday sales season rose a healthy 4 percent, reaching their highest level since 2011, the National Retail Federation (NRF) announced this week. Retail sales for November and December reached $616.1 billion, just shy of the NRF’s forecast of sales rising 4.1 percent year over year. Online and e-commerce sales for the two-month period rose 6.8 percent, to $101.9 billion. But total retail sales in December dropped 0.9 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis, which the NRF attributed to seasonal volatility and a sharp decline in gasoline prices.
Shifting consumer shopping trends could be one reason results were mixed. Many retailers began promoting holiday merchandise as early as October, which weakened the effect of the traditional Black Friday stampede to stores. Economists also noted the steady uptick in online shopping is blurring lines, so consumers are buying earlier and later in the season. “It’s not Black Friday anymore; it’s ‘Black November,’” Robert Skiba, InComm executive vice president, tells Paybefore. A surge of pre- and post-holiday promotions also is stretching so-called holiday sales well into the New Year, Skiba notes. “Gift card sales were very strong this year across the board and this month we’ll see a sales surge when people go to redeem those.”
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