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Mass. holiday sales fall short of forecast

January 14, 2014

BOSTON (AP) — Holiday sales in Massachusetts fell short of expectations and lagged behind national results, an organization representing the state’s retailers said Tuesday.

Retail sales for the November-December period rose by 2 percent over the same two months in the prior year, said Jon Hurst, president of the Retailers Association of Massachusetts, citing a survey of the group’s membership.

The association had forecast a 3.5 percent increase in holiday sales and appeared well on track to achieve that goal based on November results which showed a robust 4.4 percent gain over November 2012, Hurst said. But the momentum appeared to fizzle in December.

“The overall Massachusetts results show an increase over last year, but they lag both our projections and national results,” he said.

The National Retail Federation said Tuesday that U.S. holiday sales rose by 3.8 percent, just shy of the group’s forecast of a 3.9 percent increase.

Hurst noted that the national results were primarily focused on large retail chains and included Internet sales, while in Massachusetts the results were based largely on smaller retailers with little or no Internet sales.

December results in Massachusetts were likely skewed by a couple of large snowstorms that held down customer traffic in stores and by the calendar that offered one fewer December weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas than the previous year had, Hurst said.

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