Retail Sales Rose 8% During the Holiday Season

By Alan Wolf, YSN

Total U.S. retail sales grew 8.3 percent year over year during the November-December period, topping $789 billion.

The increase, based on research by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and the U.S. Census Bureau, was more than double the average holiday gains of 3.5 percent garnered over the previous five years.

According to NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz, 2020 holiday sales were boosted by increased consumer savings due to the first round of stimulus payments and restrictions on travel, dining out and public entertainment and sporting events. Consumer sentiment was also buoyed by the promise of a second round of stimulus checks and the advent of COVID-19 inoculations, he noted.

Holiday-related spending picked up in the third and fourth weeks of December, following cutoffs for Christmas delivery of online orders. Shoppers instead turned to quick trips to stores or opted for curbside and in-store pickups of purchases made online, Kleinhenz said.

Not surprisingly, online merchants enjoyed the biggest bonanza, with e-tail sales up nearly 24 percent to $209 billion for the two-month period.

“Despite unprecedented challenges, consumers and retailers demonstrated incredible resilience this holiday season,” observed NRF president/CEO Matthew Shay. Looking ahead, he said “President-elect Biden’s stimulus proposal, with direct payments to families and individuals, further aid to small businesses and tools to keep businesses open, will keep the economy growing.”