U.S. retail sales grow more quickly than expected in December

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Excluding sales of automobiles, which rose by 0.2% to reach $102.06bn, retail sales were 0.4% ahead versus the previous month, which was in-line with economists' forecasts.

The increase in retail sales was partly due to 1.2% sales growth at both building material and supplies dealers and non-store retailers. "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". Sales in the fourth quarter as a whole increased 5.5% compared with the same period a year earlier.

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.

He added, "Furthermore, the improving labor market, robust consumer confidence and the boost to disposable incomes from the recently enacted tax cuts suggest that spending will continue to grow at a healthy pace over the first half of this year as well".

They also said that overall, retail sales rose 4.2 percent in 2017, the most in three years.

December sales gained 0.4% seasonally adjusted from November and advanced 4.6% unadjusted year-over-year, NRF indicated, citing United States Census Bureau data.

U.S. retail sales grow more quickly than expected in December
U.S. retail sales grow more quickly than expected in December

With the optimistic outlook for consumer spending, Fed officials expected the US economy to grow 2.5 percent this year, an upgrade of 2.1 percent from their forecasts in September last year.

As a result, certain retail segments were particularly strong in December. Sales at auto dealerships increased by 0.2 percent, while sales at service stations were unchanged.

Every retail category except for sporting goods showed gains during the final two months of the year, according to the NRF.

Department store chain Bon-Ton Stores, Inc., announced that its comparable-store sales for the nine-week holiday period decreased 2.9%, while sales declined 6.6% in the third quarter. Fluctuations in sales often reflect changes in gas prices, not volume. Among the top 30 cities, Philadelphia ranked No. 12 in terms of total dollars spent in November and December.

Sales were uneven across other categories last month. A few sectors didn't fare as well: Sales fell 1.6 percent at sporting goods stores and 0.3 percent at clothing stores.

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