Retail rebound: 2017 holiday sales reach $598 billion

NEW YORK -- Retailers are seeing plenty of green this holiday season. And it's not over yet. Records are falling as sales add up. 

This holiday season, it wasn't just Manuel Rivera spending more. 

"Our finances are stable and we're buying more," Rivera said. 

Nor was it just John Robertelli. 

"This year, I think we're spending a bit more," he said. 

They had a lot of company across the country. Total retail sales this holiday season added up to a record $598 billion dollars — up $33 billion from last year. 

"This is literally the best season since before the recession," business owner Craig Johnson said. 

Johnson's company, Customer Growth Partners, analyzes all things retail. He credits low unemployment and a booming stock market for this humbug-free holiday season. 

"The single biggest drive of retail sales is growth in real disposable income," he said. "And when real income goes up, people have money in their pocket and they're able to spend it." 

Online sales are also way up, which explains why UPS had to call in support from their accountants and office staff to supplement drivers trying to deliver everything on time. 

"FedEx, UPS and the Postal Service have all been record volumes," Johnson said. 

What Johnson see that he likes most? All types of stores — discount, big box, full price, specialty — shared in the holiday bonanza. 

"All the signs, all the ingredients are in place for a sustained retail rebound here this year," he added. 

Sales of gift cards don't count until the day they are redeemed, which means this week should also be a boomer for retailers. 

  • Jim Axelrod

    Jim Axelrod is the anchor of the Saturday edition of the "CBS Evening News" and a national correspondent for CBS News, reporting for the "CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley" and other CBS News broadcasts.