Four separate reports showed that overall retail sales did increase modestly over the holiday season:
- A report from MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse found that total retail sales (excluding auto sales) increased by 2.4 percent in December. However, that is down from the 4.5 percent sales growth reported in November.
- ShopperTrak, a Chicago-based company that measures store traffic, found that retail sales rose 2.5 percent in December over the prior year. Foot traffic increased 1.2 percent.
- The National Retail Federation estimates that holiday retail sales increased 3 percent—below the group’s 4.1 percent forecast. Online sales also came in under expectations—posting 11.1 percent growth, below the predicted 12 percent. “For over six months, we’ve been saying that the fiscal cliff and economic uncertainty could impact holiday sales,” said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay in a statement. “As the number shows, these issues had a visible impact on consumer spending this holiday season.” The group also found that December retail sales (excluding automobiles, gas stations and restaurants) increased 0.8 percent from November and 2.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
- The NRF’s December numbers are similar to those of the U.S. Commerce Department. The government agency reported that retail and food services sales (excluding autos) in December rose 0.3 percent from the previous month, and 4.1 percent from the last year. Overall, in 2012, retail sales increased 5.2 percent from 2011, the agency said.