Retailers had the best holiday season in years

Economy Watch: Retail Sales Gain Ground in December

Economy Watch: Retail Sales Gain Ground in December

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 and advisors had expected robust spending across the board due to strong employment and consumer confidence.

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. Data for November was revised to show sales gaining 0.9 percent instead of the previously reported 0.8 percent increase.

The Labor Department said its consumer price index inched up by 0.1% in December after climbing by 0.4 in November.

The results exceeded NRF's forecast of between $678.75 billion and $682 billion, which would have been an increase of between 3.6% and 4%, and marked the largest increase since the 5.2% year-over-year gain seen in 2010 after the end of the Great Recession.

Traders were also digesting some closely watched economic data, including a report from the Commerce Department showing retail sales rose in line with economist estimates in the month of December. "With this as a starting point and tax cuts putting more money into consumers' pockets, we are confident that retailers will have a very good year ahead". Visit MarketWatch.com for more information on this news. Total sales for the October 2017 through December 2017 period were up 5.5% from the same period a year ago. The market conditions were right, retailers were doing what they know how to do, and it all worked. Department and general merchandise stores, which include Macy's as well as Target and warehouse clubs, saw sales rise by just 0.1 percent. "We think the willingness to spend and growing purchasing power seen during the holidays will be key drivers of the 2018 economy".

December retail sales - a measure of consumer spending at stores, restaurants and websites - rose 4.2 percent, the most in three years, the Commerce report concluded, while e-commerce sales rose 1.2 percent from November and 12.7 percent from the prior December. Sales last month were supported by a 1.2 percent jump in receipts at gardening and building material stores.

United States retail sales grew more strongly than expected last month amid especially strong demand for building materials and for on-line retailers.

Clothing and accessories stores increased 2.7% unadjusted year-over-year.

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