The National Retail Federation, the nation's largest retail trade group, now has a broader definition of holiday sales. Here are the facts:
_WHAT HAS CHANGED?: Starting with August monthly sales report released last month, NRF began counting sales from auto parts and accessories stores as well as online sales. NRF still counts sales at discounters, department stores, grocery stores and specialty merchants, but it still excludes sales from automotive dealers, gas stations and restaurants from its count. The new definition is now being applied to holiday sales
_WHAT'S BEHIND THE CHANGES?: NRF says that it decided to include online sales given shoppers' increasing shift to the Web. Online sales are expected to account for around 10 percent of total retail sales during the fourth quarter, according to comScore, an Internet research firm. That's up from 8.9 percent in the holiday quarter a year ago. Meanwhile, the trade group decided to broaden its definition to also include sales from retailers like Autozone and O'Reilly Auto Parts because they're becoming a fast-growing segment of the industry.
THE RESULT? National Retail Federation has revised every year's holiday sales figures as far back as 2000 to reflect the change.