Markets

US Retail Sales Rise 0.4% In December, In Line With Estimates

US Retail Sales Rise 0.4% In December, In Line With Estimates

The December sales growth was driven by increases in building material stores and online retailers, with both categories posting 1.2% month-over-month increases.

Receipts at restaurants and bars gained 0.7 percent, the biggest increase seen since January.

Retail sales during the holiday season rose 5.5% in 2017 to $691.9 billion, exceeding the National Retail Federations forecast of a 3.6%-to-4% increase. However, many questioned exactly where that increased spending would go. Non-store sales, which includes online sales, grew in December by 12.7% over the prior year period.

"We knew going in that retailers were going to have a good holiday season but the results are even better than anything we could have hoped for, especially given the misleading headlines of the past year", NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. This increase topped the trade group's expectations for sales excluding restaurants, automobiles and gasoline to rise 3.6% to 4%.

Rob Lowe Slams Bella Thorne For Her 'Inconvenienced' Tweet About California's Mudslides
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He added, "Furthermore, the improving labor market, robust consumer confidence and the boost to disposable incomes from the recently enacted tax cuts suggest that spending will continue to grow at a healthy pace over the first half of this year as well". Nonstore Retailers were up 12.7% from December 2016, while Building Materials and Garden Equipment and Supplies Dealers were up 9.9% from previous year.

Combined with last month's glowing consumer spending data, economists say, the us economy is showing signs of strength going into the new year. The unemployment rate is at a 17-year low of 4.1 percent.

Not all categories of retail fared well in December. "We think the willingness to spend and growing purchasing power seen during the holidays will be key drivers of the 2018 economy". Spending for the two months combined was the best since 2005. Bon-Ton Stores, like many other retailers, has faced challenges as customers shifted from brick-and-mortar and mall shopping toward online retailing, and The Wall Street Journal has reported the chain has considered a possible bankruptcy filing. Sales at auto dealerships increased by 0.2 percent, while sales at service stations were unchanged.

In December, electronics and appliance stores sales dropped 0.2 percent.


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