U.S. holiday sales rise 4.1% in 2019 on strong online sales - NRF

Jan 16 (Reuters) - U.S. holiday sales rose 4.1% in 2019 from a year earlier, as steady wage and jobs growth encouraged shoppers to splurge on groceries, beverages and furniture, the National Retail Federation (NRF) said on Thursday.

The U.S. retail group said holiday sales, excluding automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants, rose to $730.2 billion, largely above the midpoint of its forecast of 3.8% to 4.2% growth, and up from a modest 2.1% growth last year.

“This was a healthy holiday season, especially compared with the decline in retail sales we saw at the end of the season in 2018,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said.

Online and non-store sales rose 14.6%, well above NRF’s forecast of 11% to 14% increase, marking at least the fourth consecutive year of double-digit gains. Sales of beverage, grocery and furniture also posted strong growth.

For an interactive graphic, click here:

NRF numbers are based on data from the U.S. Commerce Department, which on Thursday said overall December sales, including auto dealers, gas stations and restaurants, rose 0.3% from November and 5.8% from the same period last year.

The holiday shopping season accounts for up to 40% of annual sales for retailers. However, this year, it was cut short by six days as Thanksgiving Day, which traditionally kicks off the shopping period, fell on Nov. 28.

“Despite a late Thanksgiving and worries about tariffs, the consumer didn’t go away,” Kleinhenz said.

Reporting by Praveen Paramasivam in Bengaluru; Editing by Aditya Soni