Santa delivered merchants a mixed bag 

By Alan Wolf, YSN

U.S. retail sales during 2022’s November-December holiday season grew 5.3% over 2021 to $936.3 billion, but fell short of analysts’ expectations amid continuing inflation, high interest rates and concerns about a slowing economy.

The National Retail Federation (NRF), for one, had forecast growth of between 6% and 8% for the two-month period, while The Wall Street Journal described a disappointing December as “a dismal end” to the holiday shopping period.

Nevertheless, sell-through topped the 4.9% holiday average for the previous 10 years, and December sales, though down 1.1% from November, were up 6% from 2021.

“We knew it could be touch-and-go for final holiday sales given early shopping in October that likely pulled some sales forward, plus price pressures and cold, stormy weather,” said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. “The pace of spending was choppy, and consumers may have pulled back more than we had hoped, but these numbers show that they navigated a challenging, inflation-driven environment reasonably well. The bottom line is that consumers are still engaged and shopping despite everything happening around them.”

Within home goods, combined November-December sales of furniture and home furnishings were down 1.1% from the year ago period, while soft CE demand dragged the combined electronics/appliances category down 5.7% from the 2021 holiday season. But despite the nationwide dips, BrandSource dealers continued to outperform the industry, group executives reported.

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