United States retail sales grow more quickly than expected in December

13 January, 2018, 04:05 | Author: Teresa Adams
  • Economy Watch: Retail Sales Gain Ground in December

For the whole 2017, retail sales jumped 4.2 percent from 2016, the strongest growth since 2014. Sales at auto dealerships increased by 0.2 percent, while sales at service stations were unchanged.

For example, after warning of a tough holiday Target reported that same-store sales in November and December grew 3.4%, Nordstrom said that net sales rose 2.5% and same-store sales rose 1.2% in that period, and teen apparel retailer American Eagle beat forecasts with a same-store holiday sales rise of 8%. It marked the fourth consecutive month of increase for the industry after a bruising year strewn with bankruptcies and department store closures largely from the shift to online shopping. November's number was upwardly revised to reflect a 0.9% increase. Furniture stores, and building material and garden equipment (two separate categories), both enjoyed annual gains of 9.9 percent.

There were increases in every retail category except sporting goods during the holiday season, which NRF defines as November 1 through December 31.

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General merchandise stores increased 4.3 percent. Clothing and accessories managed a 2.4% increase.

Friday's results exceeded the holiday forecast by the National Retail Federation of between $678.8 billion and $682 billion, which would have been a rise of 3.6 percent to 4 percent.

"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. "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".

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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.

The data in Friday's report "are consistent with the very elevated consumer confidence numbers, and they imply that the saving rate, which is already very low, continues to decline", wrote Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, in a note to clients. Online spending grew 11.5 percent during the holidays to $138.4 billion. "Overall, the underlying secular trends remain with the fast-growing e-commerce sector".

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