Published: Sat, January 13, 2018
Business | By Max Garcia

Holiday Retail Sales Up in 2017

Holiday Retail Sales Up in 2017

Despite December's solid numbers, most categories of retailers did better in November than in December. Sporting goods stores lost 1.6 percent in sales for the month. Miscellaneous store retailers, which includes the likes of dollar stores and Walmart, lost 2.9 percent in sales in December, perhaps because of market saturation.

Electronics and appliance stores increased 6.7% unadjusted year-over-year.

"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", said Matthew Shay, NRF president and CEO.

Excluding auto sales, retail sales still rose by 0.4% in December after jumping by 1.3% in November.

"The improving labor market, robust consumer confidence and the imminent 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", said Andrew Hunter, an economist at Capital Economics.

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.

Early results for the season from Mastercard SpendingPulse, which tracked spending through December 24, reported holiday sales grew by 4.9%. The lobbying group had forecast holiday spending growth of 3.6 percent to 4 percent.

Jeremy Andrus, chief executive officer at Traeger Grills, a Salt Lake City, Utah-based maker of wood pellet grills, said Traeger's fastest-selling grill shifted from an $800 model to a $1,000 model this holiday season as consumers showed a willingness to reach deeper into their pockets.

The confidence will likely continue into this year, especially as shoppers look to spend year-end bonuses and any windfall from tax changes, Saunders said.

Not all categories of retail fared well in December. "But retail is retail, and will always be here to serve its customers".

Overall December sales - including automobiles, gasoline and restaurants - were up 5.5 percent from December 2016.

Sales were uneven across other categories last month. Sales at sporting goods and hobby stores fell by 1.6 percent, the largest decline seen since November 2016. Spending was up at furniture sellers, grocery stores and restaurants.

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