Holiday Retail Sales Deliver 'True Level of Optimism'

NRF: Rise of Nearly 4% Repesents Good Future Economic Barometer

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The final tally on holiday sales is out -- and it's good.

The National Retail Federation said December retail sales rose 0.4% from November and 4.6% year-over- year. For all of November and December, the NRF said sales increased 3.9% to $602.1 billion, matching the group's expectations. E-commerce sales, the NRF said, increased 9.3% to $95.7 billion.

"Considering that retail sales are an important barometer when measuring the overall health of our national economy, this report provides a level of true optimism that the recovery is picking up steam, and once again, retail leads the way," said Matthew Shay, NRF president-CEO, in a statement.

"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," said Jack Kleinhenz, NRF chief economist, in the statement.

Commerce's read
Retail and food-service sales for December rose 4.1% year over year to $431.9 billion and increased 0.2% from November, the U.S. Department of Commerce also said Tuesday. For all of 2013, sales increased 4.2% in December year over year.

Retail sales, excluding motor vehicles and parts, increased 0.7% in December versus November and 3.7% compared with December 2012.

By category, from November to December, shoppers spent 2.5% less at electronics and appliance stores, according to the Commerce Department, while clothing and accessories stores saw a 1.8% increase. Department store sales for the month of December declined 0.7%.

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