USA retail sales grow more quickly than expected in December


U.S. Federal Reserve officials expected consumer spending will continue moderate growth in the near term, underpinned by the strength of the labor market, further improvements in household net worth, and buoyant consumer sentiment, according to minutes of Fed's policy meeting in December past year.

On Friday, The Commerce Department announced that retail sales rose 0.4 percent last month and November's data was revised to illustrate that sales gained 0.9 percent instead of the previously reported increase of 0.8 percent.

Excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, retail sales increased 0.3 percent in December following a higher revised 1.4 percent increase from the previous month.

Consumer confidence is on the rise, with 2017 ending on a high note. NRF had forecast that non-store sales, which include online sales, would grow between 11% and 15% to between $137.7 billion and $142.6 billion.

"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". The results mean retail sales grew 4.2% in 2017, the most since 2014. Consumer spending has continued to rise, supported by factors including low unemployment and rising consumer confidence, though the rate of growth has eased in recent years.

USA retail sales grow more quickly than expected in December
USA retail sales grow more quickly than expected in December

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

Start your workday the right way with the news that matters most. Kohl's reported a 6.9 percent increase in holiday sales at stores open at least one year, while sales rose 3.4 percent at both Target and JC Penney. Americans are more confident about the economy and are more willing to spend.

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

Over the holidays, the strongest performers were building material and supply stores (8.1 percent growth ), furniture (7.5 percent growth) and electronics (6.7 percent growth).

General merchandise stores climbed 4.3 percent, while clothing and accessories stores grew 2.7 percent. Retailers closed a record 7,000 USA stores past year, while dozens of big-name companies, including Gymboree, RadioShack and BCBG Max Azria, filed for bankruptcy.

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