2017 retail sales the best in three years

Retail Sales Grew 0.4% in December

Online retailers reported a strong sales gain of 1.2 percent. Department stores, which are a contracting retail category, saw a decline of 1.1 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. Americans are more confident about the economy and are more willing to spend.

A report released by the Commerce Department on Friday showed U.S. retail sales rose in line with economist estimates in the month of December. Retail sales, excluding expenditures on restaurants, cars and gas, hit $691.9 billion.

GlobalData Retail managing director Neil Saunders cited these factors: Consumer confidence at 17-year highs, steady wage growth of about 3 percent, the booming stock market, and the robust housing sector.

Shepherdson also pointed out the sharp 0.4% net upward revision to non-automobile sales for October and November, which he expected would trigger upward revisions to estimates of household consumption for the final three months of 2017. December e-commerce sales rose 1.2% from November and 12.7% from December 2016, according to the report.

Not all categories of retail fared well in December.

Retail Sales Grew 0.4% in December

Consumer spending is the main engine of the US economy, accounting for more than two-thirds of total economic output. Taken together, analysts said, that represented the best holiday spending performance since 2005.

"We see a very healthy consumer, and we see a lot of signs of the strength of that consumer", Mr. Andrus said.

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.

Overall December sales - including automobiles, gasoline and restaurants - were up 5.5 percent from December 2016. Fluctuations in sales often reflect changes in gas prices, not volume.

In December, electronics and appliance stores sales dropped 0.2 percent. 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.

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