December retail sales numbers were mixed to finish 2020, according to data issued today by the United States Department of Commerce and the National Retail Federation (NRF).
Commerce reported that December retail sales, at $529.6 billion, were up 0.3% over November and up 5.8% annually. And it added that total retail sales for all of 2019 saw a 3.6% annual increase, while total sales from October through December headed up 4.1% compared to the same period a year ago.
On a sector basis, Commerce reported that retail trade sales rose 0.4% compared to November and were up 6% annually, with nonstore retailers, which includes e-commerce sales, climbed 19.2% annually.
NRF reported that December retail sales were up 0.5% from November to December on a seasonally adjusted basis and up 2.1% on an unadjusted basis rose 6.7 annually%. NRF’s numbers do not include automobile dealers, gas stations, and restaurants.
And for the three-month period from October through December headed up 4.1% annually, ahead of a 3.1% gain from September through November.
NRF also reported that 2019 holiday retail sales, for the months of November and December, were up 4.1% annually to $730.2 billion. Leading the charge were online and other nonstore sales up 14.6% annually to $167.8 billion.
“This was a healthy holiday season, especially compared with the decline in retail sales we saw at the end of the season in 2018,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said in a statement. “Despite a late Thanksgiving and worries about tariffs, the consumer didn’t go away. We’ve had months of strong employment numbers, high wages and strong household balance sheets. There’s no doubt that gave consumers a sense of confidence about their ability to spend, and they did their part to keep the economy moving.”
This output was well in line with the forecast NRF issued in October, which called for holiday retail sales to increase between 3.8%-to-4.2% for a total between $727.9 billion and $730.7 billion, with online and nonstore sales topping initial expectations of an 11%-to14% annual increase to between $162.6 billion and $166.9 billion.
What’s more, NRF observed the 2019 holiday sales output nearly doubled up 2018’s low 2.1% annual gain, which was negatively impacted by the government shutdown, stock market churn, and interest rate hikes.