Commerce figures hint at healthy holiday season

Nov. 14 retail sales figures from the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) showed a 1.3% sales retail gain in the GAFS category, which includes general merchandise, clothing, home furnishings, electronics, appliances, sporting goods, books, and music. And according to a statement from the National Retail Federation (NRF), the increase means that consumers “are poised to shop this holiday season.” The NRF last month forecast 4% overall retail (including catalog) sales growth for the holiday season, and the DOC data, it says, back the group’s forecast.

“For department stores, it was the strongest gain in 15 months,” Tara Weiner, managing partner of Deloitte & Touche’s National Consumer Business Practice, said in a statement. “October’s blast of cold air seems to have given consumers a reason to replace old clothing, which helped boost apparel sales. In addition, there is pent-up demand from last year: Because last winter was particularly mild, a lot of people didn’t buy new coats or other cold weather clothing. So October’s chilly weather helped drive sales of cold-weather clothing.”

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