More pay, greater confidence lifts United States retail sales 0.6 percent

Terry Joseph
January 14, 2017

USA retail sales in November and December, when many stores get 25% of their annual sales, rose a better than expected 4%, according to the National Retail Federation, which bases its figures on government data.

The NRF had forecast sales for November and December, excluding autos, gasoline and dining out, to increase 3.6 percent to $655.8 billion. The agency saw a 0.6 percent gain in December, following a 0.2 percent increase the previous month.

Retail trade sales were up 0.8% from November 2016, and up 4.3% from a year ago. Online transactions increased 12 percent, the firm said earlier this month, accounting for 20 percent of overall holiday spending.

Consumers are still purchasing products from these companies, even if many of those sales are occurring away from traditional stores. Department stores continued to be a losing proposition, with a loss of 8.4 percent in sales for the year, and electronics stores suffered a drop of 2.4 percent in sales compared with last year. In addition, Amazon revealed their holiday sales were a Christmas miracle as sales for the Amazon Alexa virtual assistants increased by over 900%. Ex-auto sales had been expected to climb by 0.5 percent.

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"These numbers show that the nation's slow-but-steady economic recovery is picking up speed and that consumers feel good about the future", said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. Gas station sales rose 2 percent, largely because of higher prices.

Macy's at Westfield Sarasota Square is in the middle of a going out of business sale and the Kmart at Fruitville and Beneva roads also is bracing to close.

Sales at building material stores increased 0.5 percent as did those at furniture shops. Receipts at restaurants and bars fell 0.8 percent last month.

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