The National Retail Federation on Tuesday said holiday sales were in line with its projections — about $401.8 billion for November and December, an increase of 3.8%.
The association had projected holiday sales gains of about 3.9%, to $602.1 billion.
“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 and CEO Matthey 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.”
NRF said non-store holiday sales, which is an indicator of online and ecommerce sales, grew 9.3% to $95.7 billion.
Some of the sales gains might have come at the expense of retailers’ margins, as retailers promoted heavily during the holidays, NRF pointed out. “
Undoubtedly, some of the increase came at the expense of margin,” NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “Retailers are still stressed, and a long-term promotional environment may actually hurt the bottom line.”
He said the economy appears “set for steady growth” in 2014.
“As consumer confidence grows, there will be less need for retailers to heavily promote and discount their offerings,” Kleinhenz said.
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