Tallahassee Journal

Holiday sales disappoint: Grew a less-than-expected 3%

Holiday sales disappoint: Grew a less-than-expected 3%

Holiday retail sales grew less than expected as retailers battled for shoppers who are opting to spend money on the thrill of lasting experiences rather than a new sweater. Sales for November and December rose 3% to $626.1 billion, failing to hit NRF’s estimate for an increase of 3.7%. That’s also below last year’s increase of 4.1% for the holiday season. But online sales exceeded expectations, increasing 9% to hit $105 billion. NRF expected e-commerce sales to increase between 6% and 8%.635538366979530007-AP-Holiday-Shopping-Weekend-Sales

Stores had to contend with the continued shift in shoppers who prefer to go online and unseasonably warm winter weather that left many coats and boots on store shelves. Plus, many people don’t have the affinity for material things they once did, says Noam Paransky, director of the retail practice at AlixPartners, a consulting firm. “When they do spend they are looking to buy things of more permanence,” he says. “They’re looking to create memories and events.” That means money is going to restaurants and concert tickets over clothes and shoes, he says.

A final look at how retailers fared will come when fourth-quarter earnings reports start rolling out next month. But early results show some sailed through the season more easily than others. Best Buy said Thursday that sales at stores open at least a year fell 1.4% during the holiday season. The chain dragged on slower sales of mobile phones and tablets.

Macy’s, Gap and Urban Outfitters also suffered during the holiday period thanks to lower traffic and difficulty selling winter apparel in areas where it was too warm to warrant donning coats and boots. Meanwhile, Toys R Us saw sales at U.S. stores increase 1.4% in the nine-week period from Nov. 1 through Jan. 2, as its core toy and seasonal categories gave the company a boost.

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