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 bit.ly/2tqKJRv 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.
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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