Retail sales increased 4 percent in November and December, topping an industry estimate that predicted they would rise 3.6 percent and underscoring the divide between retail's winners and losers.
The National Retail Federation released its final tally on Friday, hours after the Commerce Department said that core retail sales were up 4.3 percent over the prior year in December.
The beat, which came on the back of a slew of disappointing sales announcements from traditional retailers, was higher than the prior 10-year average of 2.5 percent growth. Non-store sales, which are predominantly comprised of digital revenue, increased 12.6 percent.
"These numbers show that the nation's slow-but-steady economic recovery is picking up speed and that consumers feel good about the future," NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement.
"Retail mirrors the economy. And while there might have been some bumps in the road for individual companies, the retail industry overall had a solid holiday season and retailers will work to sustain this in the year ahead."
Consumers this season benefited from higher wages, lower unemployment, and stronger stock markets and home values.