December 2016 is set to be a profitable month for many small businesses according to December sales trends over the last few years. So far in 2016, there has been a year-over-year increase of 1.9% in retail sales, a statistic that bodes well for what is known as the best month for retail. Although retail sales fell slightly in August of this year (0.3%), the numbers show that sales are predictably picking up in time for the holidays.
Here’s a look at December sales trends over the years. These numbers and statistics might give you a better idea of what to expect from your small business in December 2016. Check it out!
December Sales Trends Over the Years
eMarketer put together a nice prediction of total retail sales in the United States for years 2016, 2017, and 2018. It also includes actual retail sales for the years 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015.
As you can see from their handy graph on the left, retail sales have been rising year over year to the tune of around 4.2%. That’s a positive thing for small business owners who are looking at December sales trends and what to expect this coming month.
As noted, the graph does not include travel and event tickets. It is not adjusted for inflation. It was developed in 2014, and their 2015 predictions turned out to be pretty spot-on. That’s encouraging because we expect to see more increases in the coming years as well.
December 2015 – Sales rose 0.2%
Sectors that saw the largest increases in December 2015 include:
- Online sales – increase of 8.7%
- Building materials – increase of 1.4%
- Sporting goods – increase of 1.9%
- Restaurants – increase of 1.3%
Sectors that saw declines include:
- Electronics – fell 0.9%
- Gas stations – fell 8.1%
- Department stores – fell 3.8%
December 2014 – Sales fell 0.9%
Sectors that saw the largest increases in December 2014 include:
- Automobile sales – increase of 1.7%
- Online sales – increased 6.8%
- Consumer electronics – increase of less than 1%
- Clothing – increase of less than 1%
- Department stores – increase of less than 1%
- Hobby/Bookstores – increase of less than 1%
- Building materials/Garden equipment – increase of less than 1%
- Year-over-year sales – increase of 2.6%
Sectors that saw declines in December 2014 include:
- Gas stations – fell 7.3%
December 2013 – Sales rose 0.2%
Sectors that saw the largest increases in December 2013 include:
- Automobile sales – increase of 0.7%
- Building materials – increase of 0.7%
December 2013 contributed to a relatively low level of holiday spending (October – December) with an increase of just 3.1%. The yearly prediction was 3.9%, which failed to be met.
Remember: The above reports are not adjusted for inflation. Retail sales are reported monthly while GDP (Gross Domestic Product) is only measured quarterly. Retail sales and consumer spending account for around 70% of economic growth – that should give you an idea of just how important small businesses like yours are to the nation’s economy, especially during the holiday season.
Because about 20% of annual retail sales happen during the holiday season (October through December), December sales trends are always an important predictor for business owners to pay attention to. What did you think of the December sales trends over the last few years? How has your business fared during past Decembers? We’d love to hear from you!