Retail group blames Washington for slow holiday sales
Holiday retail sales fell short of projections because of Americans’ uncertainty over the economy amid Washington politics, the National Retail Federation reported Tuesday.
While holiday sales increased a solid 3 percent, they fell below the NRF’s projected forecast of 4.1 percent, and the head of the NRF put the burden squarely on politicians in Washington.
“For over six months, we’ve been saying that the fiscal cliff and economic uncertainty could impact holiday sales. As the number shows, these issues had a visible impact on consumer spending this holiday season,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said.
“We can’t expect consumers to continue to carry the burden of growing our economy,” he said. “Washington must put political differences aside and do what it takes to get our country growing again and Americans back to work.”
Total sales, excluding automobiles, gas stations and restaurants, came to $579.8 billion. Online sales grew 11.1 percent in November and December, just shy of the 12 percent NRF’s online arm, shop.org. predicted.
“While non-store retail sales increased a hearty 11 percent this December, total December sales could not make up for shortfalls in certain categories like electronics,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “Heading into 2013, consumers could continue to think twice about their discretionary purchases as they face decreases in their paychecks and other concerns with their household budgets.”
Other findings from the December retail sales report include:
• Clothing and clothing accessories stores’ sales increased 1 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and increased 2.5 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
• Electronics and appliance stores’ sales decreased 0.6 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and decreased 0.4 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
• Furniture and home furnishing stores’ sales increased 1.4 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and increased 3.0 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
• General merchandise stores’ sales were unchanged seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and decreased 3.4 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
• Health and personal care stores’ sales increased 1.4 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and decreased 0.7 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
• Nonstore retailers’ sales increased 0.5 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and increased 9.6 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
• Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores’ sales increased 0.6 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and increased 4.7 percent unadjusted year-over-year.