AP- The nation’s largest retail trade group says that holiday sales increased 4.1%, near the top end of its forecast. The National Retail Federation had expected a range of 3.8% to 4.2%. The results, which cover November and December, offer a dose of optimism for the retail industry after several large stores delivered disappointing holiday sales. The numbers exclude sales from automobile dealers, gas stations and restaurants. Online and other non-store sales were up 14.6% over the year before and are included in the total. The NRF forecast considered economic indicators such as consumer credit, disposable personal income and monthly retail sales.
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