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13 January 2018, 04:05 | Cesar Cruz
Sales were up 5.5% during the November and December holiday shopping season according to the National Retail Federation analysis of government data
The federal government also revised its November estimates upward to 0.9% growth over October, from 0.8%. Sales at clothing stores dropped 0.3 percent, while online retailers' sales gained 1.2 percent.
General merchandise stores increased 4.3 percent.
USA retail sales rose in December previous year for four months running driven by strong holiday sales.
Data on retail sales can be volatile from month to month, aren't adjusted for inflation and don't include spending on most services such as housing and health care.
Compared to the same month a year ago, retail sales were up by 5.4% in December, reflecting a deceleration from the 6.0% year-over-year growth in November.
"We knew going in that retailers were going to have a good holiday season but the results are even better than anything we could have hoped for, especially given the misleading headlines of the past year", NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said.
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Holiday sales grew in every retail sector except sporting goods, according to the National Retail Federation. Nonstore retailer sales are up 12.7% year-over-year as online retailers continue to grow their market share.
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. "We think the willingness to spend and growing purchasing power seen during the holidays will be key drivers of the 2018 economy".
As a result, certain retail segments were particularly strong in December. The NRF had forecast a strong season but it only anticipated sales growth of 3.6 and 4 percent. Taken together, analysts said, that represented the best holiday spending performance since 2005.
Overall though, the IHS said the holiday sales lifts its outlook for the fourth quarter. A gallon of regular gasoline cost $2.48 on average in December versus $2.56 in November, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Spending was up at furniture sellers, grocery stores and restaurants.
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