Holiday retail sales numbers are in for 2016 and according to the National Retail Federation (NRF) sales increased 4% over last year. Back in October, Drake Cooper looked ahead at the holiday shopping season and offered our outlook. Mintel was predicting +1.3%, the NRF had +3.6%, PwC was higher with around 10%, and Drake Cooper predicted, well, +4%. Part luck, obviously, but we also put a lot of thought into it.   

Deloitte had a great set of thinkingWe bet strongly on eCommerce, and we thought consumer spending would continue its ongoing strength regardless of who won the election. The wild card we said in October would be the weather, which we looked into the best anyone can, and the way that played out in November and December around the U.S. fell for prompting strong retail sales.

Retail Highlights

Total holiday retail sales were $658B.

The largest shopping day was Saturday, December 17th.

US consumers set a nine-year high for spending during December.

In total, consumers spent an average of $897 on gifts and related items, dining and movies this holiday season, which was more than pre-season research had predicted.

Online was up 12.6% for the season. And almost amazingly, Amazon accounted for 38% of online sales. To put into context how dominant this is here’s everyone else’s online share of sales:

Best Buy (3.9%)

Target (2.7%)

Walmart (2.6%)

Macy’s (2.4%)

Apple (2.4%)

Nordstrom (2.3%)

Kohl’s (1.6%)

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Apparently, it was the season of looking good, feeling good, and being comfortable. Industry-wise, clothing stores were +2.5%, home furnishings were +4.8%, health and personal care stores were up 6.7%, and food & beverage stores were up 3.6%.

Unfortunately, department stores performed lousy with sales decreasing 7%. Sporting goods stores and electronics stores each slipped too by 1.7% and 2.3% respectively.

But the difference between online and offline should be put in the correct context, as correctly stated by NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay:

There has been a lot of talk about online versus in-store retail in the past few months, but that comes from people who don’t realize that online and retail today are the same thing. In the new distributed commerce world that allows consumers to buy any product, anytime, anywhere, it really doesn’t matter whether a customer shops in a company’s store or on its website or mobile app. It’s all retail. Today’s retailers sell to shoppers any way they want to buy.

 

A strong holiday shopping season can set a positive stage for the year ahead. And while recaps have yet to account for how discounting, promotions and returns could crimp profits, the year over year increase is welcomed news for retailers.

For complete details about sales by category, spending trends and more, the NRF has released a very handy collection of 35 slides.

 

*Sources:

National Retail Federation, Holiday Sales Highlights

https://nrf.com/news/holiday-retail-sales-increased-4-percent-2016

 

WARC, Amazon Takes Huge Lead Online

 

Gallup, US Consumers Set Nine-Year High For December Spending

http://www.gallup.com/poll/201584/consumers-set-nine-year-high-december-spending.aspx

 

eCommerce Bytes, Holiday Shoppers Spent More Than They Had Intended

http://www.ecommercebytes.com/cab/abn/y17/m01/i11/s02

 

eMarketer, Don’t Get Too Excited Just Yet About Retailers’ Merry Holiday Sales

https://www.emarketer.com/Article/Dont-Too-Excited-Just-Yet-About-Retailers-Merry-Holiday-Sales/1014974?ecid=NL1001