Holiday sales up 8.3% amid big spending shifts


NEW YORK (AP) – The nation’s largest retail group said on Friday that holiday sales climbed 8.3%, far beating its forecast even as the coronavirus pushed shoppers away from physical stores.

The National Retail Federation had forecast growth in the range of 3.6% to 5.2% for the period of November and December compared to the period of the previous year.

The outsized gains show how the pandemic has caused a major shift in spending on restaurants and travel and more towards purchasing goods that focus on activities around the home like furnishings, food and sportswear . This trend has benefited retailers. Retail sales figures exclude auto, restaurant and gasoline sales.

What’s more, even in the retail industry, big box stores like Walmart and Target dominate the landscape, enjoying significant sales gains at the expense of stores in malls that were forced to temporarily close in the spring and early in the summer and still face restrictions. Shoppers are consolidating their trips and favoring stores that offer a wide range of products under one roof as they seek to minimize exposure to the virus.

The National Retail Federation also said shoppers are looking for opportunities to celebrate during tough times.

“In the face of increasing transmission of the virus, state restrictions on retailers, and heightened political and economic uncertainty, consumers have chosen to spend on gifts that have lifted the spirits of their families and friends and donated a sense of normalcy given the difficult year, ”said Matt Shay, CEO of the business group, in a statement.

The unadjusted seasonally adjusted holiday figures contrast with a pessimistic Commerce Department report on Friday that retail sales fell 0.7% seasonally adjusted in December from the previous month. Government figures, which include restaurants, gasoline and automobiles, also fell in October and November, even as many retailers tried to get people to buy their Christmas presents early by offering pre-Halloween deals. .

However, the government reported a 3.7% gain in retail sales in November and a 2.9% gain in December compared to periods of the previous year.

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