Holiday Season Retail Sales Saw Biggest Increase Since 2008

Holiday Season Retail Sales Saw Biggest Increase Since 2008

Retail trade sales increased 0.3% from November and 5.6% from past year.

December retail sales - a measure of consumer spending at stores, restaurants and websites - rose 4.2 percent, the most in three years, the Commerce report concluded, while e-commerce sales rose 1.2 percent from November and 12.7 percent from the prior December. The lobbying group had forecast holiday spending growth of 3.6 percent to 4 percent. The increase was a notch below the MarketWatch forecast of 0.5%, but sales for November and October were both revised higher.

Online shopping, which is included in the results, increased 11.5 percent. Department and general merchandise stores, which include Macy's as well as Target and warehouse clubs, saw sales rise by just 0.1 percent.

Department store chain Bon-Ton Stores, Inc., announced that its comparable-store sales for the nine-week holiday period decreased 2.9%, while sales declined 6.6% in the third quarter.

Sales gains weren't evenly distributed in December, according to First Data's SpendTrend.

"Overall, the pace of consumer spending clearly accelerated quite sharply in the final quarter of past year", said Andrew Hunter, US Economist at Capital Economics.

"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", the National Retail Federation's President and CEO Matthew Shay said in a press release.

Spending Surge       U.S. retail sales grew for a ninth straight holiday season in 2017                                  Source National Retail Federation
Spending Surge U.S. retail sales grew for a ninth straight holiday season in 2017 Source National Retail Federation

USA retail sales increased in December as households bought a range of goods and figures for the prior month were revised higher, suggesting the economy exited 2017 with strong momentum. Sales at nonstore retailers grew 1.2% following November's 4.2% increase.

Sales last month were supported by a 1.2 percent jump in receipts at gardening and building material stores. Sales at service stations were unchanged last month.

The season got off to a strong start, with roughly 70 percent of Americans reporting that they went shopping - either online or in person - over Thanksgiving weekend.

The economy grew at a 3.2 percent pace during that period.

Electronics sales, which had been relatively flat for most last year, "ended the year with a flourish", he also noted.

Health and personal care stores increased 2.2 percent unadjusted year-over-year. Sales at sporting goods and hobby stores dropped 1.6 percent, the biggest decline since November 2016.

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