Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Money | By Armando Alvarado

Retail Sales Up On Holiday Bump in December

Retail Sales Up On Holiday Bump in December

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.

At J.C. Penney, meantime, even an optimistic outlook from CEO Marvin Ellison couldn't buoy the retailer's shares after investors were underwhelmed by the company's 3.4 percent gain for holiday sales.

They also said that overall, retail sales rose 4.2 percent in 2017, the most in three years. "We've seen the labor market has been rather solid", said Satyam Panday, senior economist at S&P Global.

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. Year-over-year core sales increased 6.3%.

Holiday sales grew in every retail sector except sporting goods, according to the National Retail Federation. 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.

Consumer spending is the main engine of the US economy, accounting for more than two-thirds of total economic output. The unemployment rate is at a 17-year low of 4.1 percent.

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Jeremy Andrus, chief executive officer at Traeger Grills, a Salt Lake City, Utah-based maker of wood pellet grills, said Traeger's fastest-selling grill shifted from an $800 model to a $1,000 model this holiday season as consumers showed a willingness to reach deeper into their pockets.

As a result, certain retail segments were particularly strong in December. Taken together, analysts said, that represented the best holiday spending performance since 2005. "But retail is retail, and will always be here to serve its customers". Sales at auto dealerships increased by 0.2 percent, while sales at service stations were unchanged. Fluctuations in sales often reflect changes in gas prices, not volume.

Total sales for the 12 months of 2017 were up 4.2% from 2016.

Sales were uneven across other categories last month.

But there was also some bad news in Friday's report, which showed sales fell 1.6 percent at sporting goods stores and 0.3 percent at clothing stores. Spending was up at furniture sellers, grocery stores and restaurants.

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