Grocery stores were basically flat compared to November (up 0.1%), but saw a larger 8.3% increase compared to December last year. One of the largest declines compared to November was in the department store category, which saw a 6.6% decline over November. Furniture and home furnishing stores saw a 2.5% decrease, while auto dealerships saw a 1.4% fall from the prior month.
Overall, the National Retail Federation (NRF) said retail sales during the holiday season grew 5.3% compared to last year, which was less than the organization had anticipated. NRF attributed the slower-than-anticipated growth to inflation pressures and high-interest rates.
“We knew it could be touch-and-go for final holiday sales given early shopping in October that likely pulled some sales forward plus price pressures and cold, stormy weather,” said Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist at the NRF, in a release. “The pace of spending was choppy, and consumers may have pulled back more than we had hoped, but these numbers show that they navigated a challenging, inflation-driven environment reasonably well. The bottom line is that consumers are still engaged and shopping despite everything happening around them.”