Holiday Retail Sales Up in 2017

Retail Sales Grew 0.4% in December

Retail Sales Grew 0.4% in December

According to the National Retail Federation, holiday sales in the November/December timeframe increased 5.5% over the same period in 2016 to $691.9 billion.

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. "General merchandise sales (without food or autos) barely moved up, and most of the increase was in non-store retailing", Erik Gordon, professor at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business, told Retail Dive in an email. Still, tepid results from department stores and apparel retailers show that not every company will benefit from more shopper spending.

The U.S. Department of Commerce confirmed on Friday what retailers have been hinting at since Christmas - that the holiday season gave them a much-needed lift, fueled by strong demand for home goods and electronics, and a surge in online purchases.

The so-called retail sales control group grew by 0.3% on the month, which was one tenth of a percentage point less than anticipated.

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 previous year.

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. A gallon of regular gasoline cost $2.48 on average in December versus $2.56 in November, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. 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.

Its analysis released Wednesday showed that overall spending among Philly shoppers in stores grew 4 percent this last holiday season from a year ago.

As a result, certain retail segments were particularly strong in December.

"We see a very healthy consumer, and we see a lot of signs of the strength of that consumer", Mr. Andrus said.

On the other hand, the report showed steep drops in sales by miscellaneous store retailers, sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores, and department stores.

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