Economy

Retail Sales Up On Holiday Bump in December

Retail Sales Up On Holiday Bump in December

Retail sales - a measure of consumer spending at stores, restaurants and websites - increased a seasonally adjusted 0.4% in December from the prior month, the Commerce Department said Friday, matching expectations of economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal.

"Whether they shopped in-store, online or on their phones, consumers were in the mood to spend", Matthew Shay, president and chief executive of the NRF, said in a statement. The confidence is up.

Retail sales had increased a revised 0.9% in November, and October sales growth also was revised higher. Sales of building materials and supplies grew 8.1 percent from 2016, while furniture rose 7.5 percent and electronics grew 6.7 percent.

According to the National Retail Federation, holiday sales in the November/December timeframe increased 5.5% over the same period in 2016 to $691.9 billion. Sales at nonstore retailers grew 1.2% following November's 4.2% increase. After some analysts and industry experts panned Macy's business plans and questioned its ability to compete, the company's shares have been steadily climbing in recent months, rising more than 50 percent since early November.

"After years in hibernation, consumers - accounting for 70 percent of GDP - are finally flexing their spending muscles", Johnson said.

Consumer spending had been robust a year ago thanks to the improved consumer confidence and strong labor market performance.

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Philadelphia shoppers mirrored national patterns, according to a report by First Data, which processes about 40 percent of card transactions in the U.S. While much of the destruction occurred before the holiday shopping season, it most likely took time before insurance money and disaster aid began to find its way into consumers' pockets.

As a result, certain retail segments were particularly strong in December. Taken together, analysts said, that represented the best holiday spending performance since 2005.

Overall though, the IHS said the holiday sales lifts its outlook for the fourth quarter.

Sales at gasoline stations were unchanged during December after growing 3.0% in November. Fluctuations in sales often reflect changes in gas prices, not volume.

Total sales for the 12 months of 2017 were up 4.2% from 2016. Non-store retailers on the other hand saw sales jump 1.2% to $55.6bn.

But there was also some bad news in Friday's report, which showed sales fell 1.6 percent at sporting goods stores and 0.3 percent at clothing stores. Retailers closed a record 7,000 USA stores a year ago, while dozens of big-name companies, including Gymboree, RadioShack and BCBG Max Azria, filed for bankruptcy.


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