(Adds details, Commerce Dept data)
Jan 13 An improving economy and attractive deals
from retailers powered a better-than-expected 4 percent increase
in U.S. holiday sales to $658.3 billion, retail industry group
National Retail Federation said.
Online sales were a big contributor to the increase in
overall sales, rising 12.6 percent to $122.9 billion versus
NRF's estimate of 7-10 percent growth.
The NRF had forecast overall retail sales for November and
December, excluding autos, gasoline and dining out, to increase
3.6 percent to $655.8 billion.
"The economy was clearly stronger in the fall and consumers
were more active during the holiday season than they had been
earlier in the year," NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said.
"Economic indicators were up, retailers offered great deals,
confidence improved and all of that empowered consumers to spend
more," he added.
NRF's data comes after the Commerce Department said on
Friday that core retail sales, which exclude gasoline and
automobiles, building materials and food services, rose 3.4
percent in December from a year earlier.
Core retail sales correspond most closely with the consumer
spending component of gross domestic product.
Analysts have said a jump in consumer spending in the final
stretch of December significantly offset a slow start to the
U.S. holiday shopping season.
However, several retailers, particularly department store
operators such as Macy's Inc and apparel retailers
reported weak sales for the period, citing poor traffic in
(Reporting by Sruthi Ramakrishnan in Bengaluru; Editing by