Review of retail sales data and holiday forecast

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November Sales See Month-to-Month Growth, Offering Retailers Encouragement for Holiday Season
–Sales Drop 0.8% from Last November, Reinforcing NRF’s Holiday Forecast–

National Retailers Federation: Washington, December 11, 2009 — As shoppers – and retailers – set their sights on the holiday season, low prices and pent-up demand helped entice Americans back into the stores. According to the National Retail Federation, retail industry sales (which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) rose 0.6 percent seasonally adjusted from October and dipped 0.8 percent year-over-year. The numbers are in line with NRF’s forecast of a 1 percent decline in holiday sales.*  

“Unlike last year, when the economic downturn caught everyone off-guard, retailers were able to plan ahead this holiday season with an eagle eye on low inventory and aggressive discounts,” said NRF Chief Economist Rosalind Wells. “Retailers are encouraged to see momentum building in sales as they prepare for the final ten days before Christmas. Although November sales were encouraging, companies know that the holiday season is far from over and expect this year to come down to its usual photo finish.”

November retail sales released today by the U.S. Commerce Department show total retail sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations and restaurants) increased 1.3 percent seasonally adjusted from the previous month and increased 1.8 percent unadjusted year-over-year.  

General merchandise stores and drug stores, which have been bright spots in retail, continued to shine in November. General merchandise stores saw positive gains of 0.8 percent seasonally adjusted from October and increased 1.2 percent unadjusted from November 2008. Health and personal care store sales rose 0.3 percent unadjusted month-to-month and jumped 4.5 percent year-over-year.

Most categories saw month-to-month gains, demonstrating that shoppers were gearing up for the holiday season. Sales at electronics and appliance stores increased 2.8 percent seasonally adjusted from the previous month while decreasing 2.9 seasonally unadjusted percent year-over-year. Sporting goods, book, hobby and music stores also saw a slight month-to-month increase of 0.3 percent, though year-over-year sales dropped 1.3 percent.

— The National Retail Federation is the world’s largest retail trade association, with membership that comprises all retail formats and channels of distribution including department, specialty, discount, catalog, Internet, independent stores, chain restaurants, drug stores and grocery stores as well as the industry’s key trading partners of retail goods and services. NRF represents an industry with more than 1.6 million U.S. retail establishments, more than 24 million employees – about one in five American workers – and 2008 sales of $4.6 trillion. As the industry umbrella group, NRF also represents more than 100 state, national and international retail associations. www.nrf.com

### * NRF defines the holiday season as retail industry sales in November and December.