Markets

Retail Sales Grew 0.4% in December

Retail Sales Grew 0.4% in December

While strong sales were widely expected, many retailers were particularly hungry to prove themselves this past holiday season, following a year marred by tumbling stock prices, management shakeups, a slew of store closures and several industry bankruptcies.

Consumers cut spending at department stores, with sales dropping 1.1 percent last month, while sporting goods fell.5 percent year-over year.

The NRF credited the sales numbers to the 17-year low unemployment, increase in income, strong consumer confidence and the healthy stock market for shoppers' willingness to open their wallets.

Excluding sales of automobiles, which rose by 0.2% to reach $102.06bn, retail sales were 0.4% ahead versus the previous month, which was in-line with economists' forecasts.

Last month's sales were supported by a 1.2 percent jump in sales at gardening and building material stores. Home furnishings and electronics/appliance stores came in just below at 7.5% and 6.1%, respectively. Nonstore Retailers were up 12.7% from December 2016, while Building Materials and Garden Equipment and Supplies Dealers were up 9.9% from a year ago.




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. Clothing/accessories and health/personal care clocked in weaker growth, up 2.7 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively.

"Results are even better than anything we could have hoped for", federation CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement.

"After years in hibernation, consumers - accounting for 70 percent of GDP - are finally flexing their spending muscles", Johnson said. "Whether they shopped in-store, online or on their phones, consumers were in the mood to spend, and retailers were there to offer them good value for their money". Consumer spending accounts for about 70 percent of US economic output. Gasoline station sales are up 12.5% since December 2016.

"Any time you have a season like this, it can't be bad for retailers", said Glenn Fodor, First Data's head of information and analytics solutions.


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