Main street holiday retail sales decline, survey says

November and December holiday sales increased 4.7 percent in 2016

BOSTON (State House News Service) – Holiday period sales at local retailers fell 1 percent, a sharp contrast from predictions heading into the traditional heavy sales season, according to survey results released Monday by the Retailers Association of Massachusetts.

November and December holiday sales increased 4.7 percent in 2016 and were projected to rise 3.9 percent this year, the trade group said in November, citing a survey of its 4,000 members. However, on Monday, the association said its most recent survey reflected the disappointing sales drop. The survey does not cover national chains or online sellers.

“The disparity in the projection coupled with the strong consumer confidence levels raises the question whether consumers truly spent less this holiday season, or sent more of their dollars out of state to online sellers,” RAM said in a statement, noting the decline in sales broke a string of six straight years of growth.

The association expects national sales figures to be released later this week and said “some national measures indicate another double digit increase for internet sales this holiday season, with as much as 18 percent of all purchases for gift giving going online.”