By Phil Wahba
NEW YORK Jan 14 U.S. retail sales rose 3.8
percent in the 2013 holiday season, the National Retail
Federation said, but the trade body warned that deep discounting
could hurt retailers' profits.
Retailers offered the biggest promotions since the 2008
recession to get shoppers to spend, but many slashed profit
forecasts last week because of the deals.
"Retailers needed to get out there earlier with promotions
to capture shoppers' annual holiday budget," NRF Chief Economist
Jack Kleinhenz told Reuters.
"The top line is fine - the bottom line is going to be the
issue for these retailers."
The data, based on U.S. government figures, was just shy of
the 3.9 percent rise the NRF forecast in October. The industry
body looks at U.S. sales in November and December, excluding
automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants.
Earlier in the day, the U.S. Commerce Department reported
better-than-expected broader retail sales for December.
A week ago, data firm ShopperTrak gave a pessimistic view of
holiday season sales, saying growth between Thanksgiving and
Christmas fell to 2.7 percent from 3 percent a year earlier.
ShopperTrak also said fewer customers visited stores during
the holiday season.
Many retailers are set to report their quarterly earnings in
the next couple of weeks, which will show their performance
during the holiday season.
Kleinhenz said 2014 was expected to be better for retailers
as the U.S. economy and jobs market improve, but they might have
to continue offering discounts for the next few months.
"They have conditioned consumers to expect discounts.
Retailers don't have a lot of opportunities to raise prices," he
The NRF will issue its 2014 retail sales forecast in early
The U.S. Commerce Department said December retail sales,
including automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants, rose
0.2 percent from November.
Economists polled by Reuters were expecting a 0.1 percent
rise. Sales rose 4.1 percent from a year earlier, according to
The data was adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and
trading-day differences, but not for price changes.
The NRF said total retail sales rose to $601.9 billion in
November and December, below its estimate of $602.1 billion.
Non-store holiday sales, an indicator of online sales, grew
9.3 percent to $95.7 billion.