U.S. retails sales grow 0.4 pct in December

U.S. retails sales grow 0.4 pct in December

Those two categories showed the biggest gains in sales, followed by electronics and appliance stores, at 6.7 percent. "We've seen the labor market has been rather solid", said Satyam Panday, senior economist at S&P Global.

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.

Retailers had their best holiday season since 2010, according to the National Retail Federation, which on Friday reported that sales in the November-December period rose 5.5% compared with the year earlier period. Consumer spending, which makes up for over two-thirds of US economic activity, increased at a 2.2 percent annualized rate for the third quarter. These so-called core retail sales are the most consistent with the consumer spending element of gross domestic product (GDP). 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. 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. Total sales for the October 2017 through December 2017 period were up 5.5% from the same period a year ago.

Philadelphia shoppers mirrored national patterns, according to a report by First Data, which processes about 40 percent of card transactions in the U.S. "Our consumer data showed that small home-related items like decor and accessories were one of the most popular gifting categories this holiday season".

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The confidence will likely continue into this year, especially as shoppers look to spend year-end bonuses and any windfall from tax changes, Saunders said. Consumers pulled back spending at department stores last month, with sales dropping 1.1%.

"We intend to close the fourth quarter in a good position and head into 2018 with momentum", the chief executive of Macy's, Jeff Gennette, said in a statement. Bon-Ton Stores, like many other retailers, has faced challenges as customers shifted from brick-and-mortar and mall shopping toward online retailing, and The Wall Street Journal has reported the chain has considered a possible bankruptcy filing.

Sales at gasoline stations were unchanged during December after growing 3.0% in November.

Looking at specific categories, December sales and overall 2017 retail sales were a mixed bag. A few sectors didn't fare as well: 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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