Economy Watch: Retail Sales Gain Ground in December
Economy Watch: Retail Sales Gain Ground in December
December's retail sales were the best in three years; Philly retailers did well too
13 January, 2018, 04:06
December's retail sales growth shows "the dire predictions of the demise of retail are premature", Moody's vice president Mickey Chadha said.
General merchandise stores increased 4.3 percent.
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. However, many questioned exactly where that increased spending would go.
A report released by the Commerce Department on Friday showed United States retail sales rose in line with economist estimates in the month of December. These so-called core retail sales are the most consistent with the consumer spending element of gross domestic product (GDP).
Early results for the season from Mastercard SpendingPulse, which tracked spending through December 24, reported holiday sales grew by 4.9%.
US retail sales rise in December, capping a strong year in spending
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.
Healthy spending is also a good sign for the economy this year.
Not all categories of retail fared well in December. Spending for the two months combined was the best since 2005.
Overall though, the IHS said the holiday sales lifts its outlook for the fourth quarter.
Sales at gasoline stations were unchanged during December after growing 3.0% in November. Fluctuations in sales often reflect changes in gas prices, not volume. The industry has been under pressure as shoppers can buy sporting goods in big box stores and online. stock is down roughly 43 percent since December 2016.
Sales were uneven across other categories last month. Apparel and accessories sales fell 0.3% from November but annual sales in the category rose 2.4% year over year in 2017, while sporting goods sales fell 1.6% from November and 0.1% year over year. Spending was up at furniture sellers, grocery stores and restaurants.
Employers are encouraged to implement the new withholding tables expeditiously but should do so no later than February 15, 2018. For example, there is a new $10,000 limit on the amount of state and local taxes a household can deduct from federal income.
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