Retail Sales Up On Holiday Bump in December

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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. NRF had forecast that non-store sales, which include online sales, would grow between 11% and 15% to between $137.7 billion and $142.6 billion.

Americans spent 5.5% more in November and December 2017, reaching $691.9 billion, than they did the previous year, the National Retail Federation said Friday. "Consumers are still buying but where they are buying, and how they are buying is changing and will continue to evolve as price transparency increases and e-commerce and brick-and-mortar operations of retailers continue to converge into one seamless consumer experience", he said.

"The improving labor market, robust consumer confidence and the imminent 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", said Andrew Hunter, an economist at Capital Economics. December e-commerce sales rose 1.2% from November and 12.7% from December 2016, according to the report.

"With this as a starting point and tax cuts putting more money into consumers' pockets, we are confident that retailers will have a very good year ahead", Shay added. "But retail is retail, and will always be here to serve its customers".

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"The economy was in great shape going into the holiday season, and retailers had the right mix of inventory, pricing and staffing to help them connect with shoppers very efficiently", Kleinhenz said.

An afternoon recap of the day's most important business news, delivered weekdays. Those categories related to home fared best, with building materials and supplies stores and furniture and furnishings retailers seeing a 9.9% bounce.

In December, U.S. retail sales increased as households purchased a range of goods and the figures for the month prior were revised higher, which indicates the economy entered 2018 with strong momentum. The firm said department stores, clothing and electronics were among those that posted negative results as the year drew to a close. Clothing/accessories and health/personal care clocked in weaker growth, up 2.7 percent and 2.2 percent, respectively.