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U.S. holiday sales up 3.8 percent, retail federation says

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NEW YORK - U.S. retail sales rose 3.8 percent during the 2013 holiday season, compared with 3.5 percent last year, the National Retail Federation said on Tuesday.

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 The disappointing showing reflected on the extent of discounting retailers resorted to as consumers held back spending amid an uneven economic recovery.

 The data, based on U.S. government figures, was just shy of the 3.9 percent rise NRF forecast in October.

 The deepest discounts offered since the recession attracted shoppers, but also hit retailers' profits. Several major retailers last week slashed profit forecasts and blamed all the promotions they offered.

 They also had to contend with a drop in the number of visits shoppers paid to stores: data firm ShopperTrak last week said shopper traffic fell 14.6 percent the season.

 Total sales rose to $601.9 billion in the months of November and December. The industry body had previously estimated sales to rise to $602.1 billion.

 Other findings from the December retail sales report include:

 • Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers stores’ sales decreased 0.4 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month yet increased 4.2 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

 • Clothing and clothing accessories stores' sales increased 1.8 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 4.7 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

 • Electronics and appliance stores’ sales decreased 2.5 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 1.5 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

 • Furniture and home furnishing stores’ sales decreased 0.4 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month yet increased 5.0 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

 • General merchandise stores’ sales were flat seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and flat unadjusted year-over-year.

 • Health and personal care stores’ sales increased 0.6 seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 5.9 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

 • Nonstore retailers’ sales increased 1.4 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 14 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

 • Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores’ sales decreased 0.6 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month yet increased 5.8 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

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