United States retails sales grow 0.4 pct in December

Retail Sales Grew 0.4% in December

December's retail sales growth shows "the dire predictions of the demise of retail are premature", Moody's vice president Mickey Chadha said. Sales at clothing stores dropped 0.3 percent, while online retailers' sales gained 1.2 percent.

US retail sales rose in December past year for four months running driven by strong holiday sales. However, many questioned exactly where that increased spending would go. Home and furniture stores saw 7.5% year-over-year growth, thanks in part to a robust housing market, as well as more gifting of home products, according to GlobalData Retail Managing Director Neil Saunders.

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US retail and food service sales gained 0.4 percent compared with November and were up 5.4 percent compared with a year ago, the Census Bureau reported January 12. These so-called core retail sales are the most consistent with the consumer spending element of gross domestic product (GDP).

While strong sales were widely expected, many retailers were particularly hungry to prove themselves this past holiday season, following a year marred by tumbling stock prices, management shakeups, a slew of store closures and several industry bankruptcies. Sales at nonstore retailers grew 1.2% following November's 4.2% increase.

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With the optimistic outlook for consumer spending, Fed officials expected the USA economy to grow 2.5 percent this year, an upgrade of 2.1 percent from their forecasts in September last year. The lobbying group had forecast holiday spending growth of 3.6 percent to 4 percent.

As a result, certain retail segments were particularly strong in December. "We think the willingness to spend and growing purchasing power seen during the holidays will be key drivers of the 2018 economy". Taken together, analysts said, that represented the best holiday spending performance since 2005. The NRF had forecast a strong season but it only anticipated sales growth of 3.6 and 4 percent.

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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. Gasoline station sales are up 12.5% since December 2016. Ellison predicted a rebound in apparel and other categories.

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