Washington, D.C. -- The National Retail Federation reported Thursday that holiday sales edged NRF forecasts, rising 4.1% to $471.5 billion for the period.
NRF predicted 3.8% growth. Results exclude automobiles, gas stations and restaurants.
"The right mix of strong promotions, lean inventories and an emphasis on value put retailers in the perfect position to end the year on a high note," said NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay. “A better-than-expected holiday season is welcome news for an economic recovery that continues to be sluggish, and demonstrates retail’s powerful role as an engine of growth.”
Commerce Department December retail sales results released Thursday show total retail sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations and restaurants) increased 0.1% seasonally adjusted over November and a strong 6.2% unadjusted year-over-year.
“In a matchup between the final two months of 2011 November clearly wins, but in the end retailers’ promotions struck the right chord for budget-focused holiday shoppers,” said NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz. “Though we are seeing evidence that the economy still has a critical hold on consumers’ purchase decisions, this strength in spending could continue into 2012.”