2020 Holiday Sales Beat NRF Forecasts
The National Retail Federation reported on Jan. 15 that business for the 2020 holiday season was surprisingly strong. Sales grew 8.3 percent to $789.4 billion, beating the prominent trade group’s forecast of 3.6 percent to 5.2 percent growth.
Business for the crucial retail season was widely forecasted to be undercut by the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. However, Jack Kleinhenz, the NRF’s chief economist, said that the season’s business was saved by government stimulus payments and because consumers were not spending money on entertainment, dining out or travel.
“The promise of a new round of stimulus checks after a deal was struck before Christmas helped increase consumer confidence. Consumers were also encouraged by the news of COVID-19 vaccines becoming available, which helped offset concerns about increased infection rates and state restrictions on activity,” Kleinhenz said in the statement.
Despite beating forecasts, the holiday season’s business was something of a rollercoaster ride. Based on data from the United States Census Bureau, the NRF said that November retail sales increased 8.6 percent but in December declined 1.6 percent. Online and other non-store sales increased 23.9 percent. Building-supplies-store sales were up 19.0 percent, and sporting-goods stores increased 15.2 percent. But not every sector did well. Electronics- and appliance-store sales declined 14.4 percent, and clothing- and accessory- store sales declined 14.9 percent.
Also in a Jan. 15 report, Ken Perkins of the market-research group Retail Metrics further broke down the performance of market segments.
Department stores were the worst-performing segment, with sales declining 21.4 percent during December. It also found that clothing-store sales declined for the 10th month in a row. During the holiday, clothing sales declined 15.7 percent during November and 16.0 percent during December.