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National Retail Federation Reports Higher Sales as Holiday Season Kicks Off

holidays, retail

The National Retail Federation (NRF) says the holiday shopping season got off to a strong start.

The federation’s Retail Monitor, produced in tandem in CNBC and released Monday (Dec. 11), showed retail sales making strong gains, the organization said in a news release

“November Retail Monitor data shows that consumers are embracing the holiday season and promotions being offered by retailers,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. 

“Value conscious shoppers are out looking for deals as they purchase gifts for family and friends, and this data indicates that they’re finding them,” Shay added. “Since November makes up half the holiday season, these numbers are a positive indication of what we can expect for the full holiday season.”

According to the report, total retail sales, not including cars or gasoline, rose 0.77% seasonally adjusted month over month and were up 4.24% unadjusted year over year in November. That was compared to a month-over-month decline of 0.08% and a year-over-year increase of 2.57% for October. 

Meanwhile, the Retail Monitor calculation of core retail sales — which also excludes restaurants as well autos and gas — showed increases of 0.73% month over month and 4.17% year over year in November, following a month-over-month decrease of 0.03% and a year-over-year increase of 2.63% in October.

The news comes nearly two weeks after reports that retailers were more optimistic about the holiday season after seeing stronger-than-anticipated sales for Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 

The steep discounts presented during these peak shopping days drew in budget-strained customers, leading to record-breaking online sales. It also encouraged some retailers to hike their sales expectations and forecast a strong holiday quarter. 

Among those retailers are Ulta and Foot Locker, whose CEO highlighted the success of their full-price holiday assortments as well as their deals. The sneaker seller saw an increase of foot traffic during Black Friday, further backing up the positive trend.

However, recent research from the PYMNTS Intelligence report “New Reality Check: The Paycheck-to-Paycheck Report, The Holiday Shopping Deep Dive Edition” suggests that consumers will still likely cut back on other spending categories during the holidays for all categories beyond groceries and gifts.

That study found that 40% of consumers expect to spend more on groceries during the holiday season. But as for categories like restaurants, travel and retail products other than gifts, the percentage of people who expect to cut back on their spending is higher than those who anticipate spending more.

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