January 14, 2014, 11:27 AM

Web and other direct retail holiday sales grew 9.3% in 2013

Sales from retailers that sell via the web, catalogs and TV in November and December hit $95.7 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. Total holiday sales grew 3.8% to $601.8 billion.

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Retailers that sell directly to consumers via the web, catalogs and TV accounted for 15.9% of total sales during November and December, according to a National Retail Federation report released today.

Direct retail sales grew 9.3% from a year ago to reach $95.7 billion. That growth rate outpaced total retail sales, which increased 3.8% from 2012 to reach $601.8 billion, just missing NRF’s forecast of 3.9% growth for a total of $602.1 billion. Taking out non-store sales, store sales grew 2.8%.

The overall November-December 2013 retail sales growth rate is bigger than last year's 3.5%, but for many merchants those sales came at the expense of profits as they relied on discounting to drive sales.

“Retailers are still stressed and a long-term promotional environment may actually hurt the bottom line,” says Jack Kleinhenz, the trade group’s chief economist. “As consumer confidence grows, there will be less need for retailers to heavily promote and discount their offerings.”

The National Retail Federation report came the same day as a U.S. Commerce Department report that found total retail sales, excluding automotive, increased 3.7% in December 2013 over the same month a year earlier, to $350.2 billion from $337.7 billion. Non-store retail sales increased 9.9% to approximately $39.1 billion from $35.6 billion. When taking out the gain by non-store retailers—mainly online retailers but also merchants that sell through catalogs and TV infomercials—store retail sales increased 3.0% in December over the prior year.

“Despite facing a truncated holiday season, severe weather, and shaky consumer confidence, retailers rose to the challenge and executed their strategies with proven success,” says Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation.  

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