The holiday season didn’t deliver lumps of coal in retailers’ stockings, but it did underwhelm. Online sales were healthy but below some estimates. Overall retail sales (online and offline) ended strong, but some of the nation’s leading retailers were disappointed.

Analysts say a 4.1% boost in overall retail purchases throughout November and December—as measured by the National Retail Federation—was a positive sign for the national economy, even as some large merchants reported lackluster results. Online sales growth failed to meet some of the more optimistic estimates but still rose at a double-digit rate. Trends shaping the 2019 holiday season also included a continued move to mobile shopping. Smartphones drove 84% of the online sales growth during the period, according to research firm Adobe Analytics. The increase in mobile shopping, along with greater availability of fast shipping options, possibly helped boost the online share of total holiday spending—and drive down in-store sales, analysts say. 

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