Holiday gift for retailers; sales up a solid 0.4 percent

Holiday gift for retailers; sales up a solid 0.4 percent

Holiday gift for retailers; sales up a solid 0.4 percent

The October 2017 to November 2017 percent change was revised from up 0.8% to up 0.9%.

At J.C. Penney, meantime, even an optimistic outlook from CEO Marvin Ellison couldn't buoy the retailer's shares after investors were underwhelmed by the company's 3.4 percent gain for holiday sales.

Economists had expected retail sales to rise by 0.4% compared to the 0.8% increase originally reported for the previous month. However, many questioned exactly where that increased spending would go.

Sales of furniture grew by 0.7% to $10.33bn, while those of building materials increased by 1.2% to hit $32.98bn.

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The U.S. Department of Commerce confirmed on Friday what retailers have been hinting at since Christmas - that the holiday season gave them a much-needed lift, fueled by strong demand for home goods and electronics, and a surge in online purchases. Retail sales, excluding expenditures on restaurants, cars and gas, hit $691.9 billion.

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".

For the whole 2017, retail sales jumped 4.2 percent from 2016, the strongest growth since 2014.

Both December's increase in retail sales and the strong upward revision to November data strengthens economists' expectations of an acceleration in consumer spending for the fourth quarter.

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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.

The data in Friday's report "are consistent with the very elevated consumer confidence numbers, and they imply that the saving rate, which is already very low, continues to decline", wrote Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, in a note to clients. Taken together, analysts said, that represented the best holiday spending performance since 2005.

Gasoline-station sales were flat in December from the prior month, according to the Commerce Department report. Ellison predicted a rebound in apparel and other categories.

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