New York—The U.S. Department of Commerce released today its December retail sales results which showed moderate increases. The National Retail Federation (NRF) which had forecast a moderate increase in all 2013 holiday sales, confirmed today that sales figures were indeed in line with its forecast.
Releasing the information from its NRF’s 103rd Annual Convention and EXPO in New York, the NRF said total holiday retail sales, which includes November and December sales, increased 3.8% to $601.8 billion, which was “in line with NRF’s projected forecast of 3.9% and $602.1 billion.” In addition, non-store holiday sales, which is an indicator of online and e-commerce sales, grew 9.3% to $95.7 billion.
Increases at Expense of Margins?
“Despite facing a truncated holiday season, severe weather, and shaky consumer confidence, retailers rose to the challenge and executed their strategies with proven success,” NRF President/CEO Matthew Shay said. “Today’s holiday sales numbers are a testament to a resilient industry that knows what their customers want, when they want it and how they want to get it.”
The NRF maintains that retail sales are an important barometer when measuring the overall health of the U.S. economy, “this report provides a level of true optimism that the recovery is picking up steam, and once again, retail leads the way,” noted Shay.
“Retail sales have been volatile all year and the holiday shopping season was no exception,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “Solid job growth in the months of October and November led to a more-confident consumer and healthy holiday shopping season for many retailers. While economic and policy uncertainties remain, the economy seems set for steady growth in the New Year.”
“Undoubtedly, some of the increase came at the expense of margin. Retailers are still stressed and a long-term promotional environment may actually hurt the bottom line,” said Kleinhenz. “As consumer confidence grows, there will be less need for retailers to heavily promote and discount their offerings.”
In other news, the NRF reported that six new executives were appointed to its board of directors.
“These executives are among the top thought leaders in the world of retail and will only strengthen an already diverse and well-respected board,” Shay said. “Their knowledge and experience will be invaluable as we address the many issues facing retailers at a time when our industry is rapidly changing.”
New NRF Board Memembers
The new board members include:
●Beall’s CEO Steve Knopik
●JCPenney CEO Myron “Mike” Ullman
●SAP Senior Vice President and Head of the Global Retail Industry Business Unit Lori Mitchell-Keller
●Tractor Supply Company President/CEO Greg Sandfort
●Utah Retail Merchants Association President Dave Davis
●Walmart U.S. President/CEO Bill Simon