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The National Retail Federation (NRF) said last week that among key retail categories, grocery saw the largest gain in 2019 holiday sales as compared to the previous year. The NRF reported 2.9% year-over-year growth for the sector, which includes grocery and beverage stores.

The categories with the next largest gains were furniture and home furnishings (+2.6% year-over-year), health and personal care stores (+1.6%), building materials and garden supply stores (+1%), and general merchandise stores (+0.4%).

Key segments that experienced year-over-year decreases included electronics and appliance stores (-2%), clothing and accessories stores (-1.6%), and sporting goods stores (-0.4%).

The overall growth rate for holiday sales in 2019 (4.1%) was nearly double the rate from the previous year, which was slowed by a government shutdown, stock market volatility and interest rate hikes.

As expected, online retail saw big increases during the 2019 holiday season. Compared with 2018, online sales were up 14.6%.

“Despite a late Thanksgiving and worries about tariffs, the consumer didn’t go away,” said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. “We’ve had months of strong employment numbers, high wages and strong household balance sheets. There’s no doubt that gave consumers a sense of confidence about their ability to spend, and they did their part to keep the economy moving.”

 

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