Retail sales for the 2014 holiday season rose 4 percent to $616.1 billion, slightly less than expected but still the strongest holiday results in three years, the National Retail Federation said today.
December sales, meanwhile, fell by 4.6 percent, the trade group said.
The NRF had called for a 4.1 percent sales increase during the holiday season, including November and December.
"There is every reason to believe that we have moved well beyond the days of consumer pessimism and that the trajectory for retailers continues to point up," NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement.
Holiday sales came in at the highest level since 2011 thanks to increased spending power in an improved job market with declining gas prices, said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz.
While December sales were "disappointing" ... "preliminary holiday results affirm our initial belief that consumers going into the holiday season had the spending power necessary to give retail the shot in the arm it needed," Kleinhenz said.