The U.S. Census Bureau released retail and food services sales data , that included sales for the holiday season — November and December 2016. Holiday spending for total retail and food services sales, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences but not including price changes, for November and December 2016 was $935.3 billion — up 4.0 percent from the same two months in 2015 ($899.2 billion).
The comparable growth rate for the holiday seasons from 2014 to 2015 was 2.2 percent. (Note that there is no corresponding standard error available for the sum of the two months that comprise the holiday season — to see the standard error for these months, please see Table 3 in the release at: <www.census.gov/retail/marts/www/marts_current.pdf>). Excluding the gasoline stations component, total retail and food services sales for the 2016 holiday season were up 3.9 percent, which was not statistically different from the 2014 to 2015 increase of 4.2 percent.
Drilling further, holiday spending in nonstore retailers jumped 12.8 percent. Holiday sales at nonstore retailers have increased each year since 2008 when sales declined 6.2 percent. The 2016 trend was the highest in the past five years. At the same time, however, holiday spending in general merchandise stores declined 2.1 percent in November and December of 2016, following a 0.9 percent growth rate the year before.
For the full advance monthly sales for retail and food services report for December (and full year) 2016, see: <www.census.gov/retail/marts/www/marts_current.pdf>