Solid consumer spending at the end of the Christmas shopping season

WASHINGTON – Consumers spent at a steady pace at the end of the holiday season, a sign that they have continued to drive US growth. UU.

December retail sales, a measure of purchases in stores, restaurants and online increased by 0.3% seasonally adjusted in December of the previous month to $ 529.6 billion, the Commerce Department said Thursday. Excluding volatile categories of cars and gas, retail sales increased 0.5% in December, the highest growth rate in five months.

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Robert Frick

An economist at the Navy Federal Credit Union, wrote that solid data on central retail sales “is a relief, since they stress that consumers, who now almost exclusively support the economy, have more confidence to spend.”

Solid gains in almost all categories offset low sales in physical stores and a drop in motor vehicle sales, the data showed. The last month of the holiday season is key for retail businesses, especially for department stores, clothing stores and online sellers.

The Commerce Department report on Thursday showed that spending was strong in several key categories in the last month of the holiday season. Due to a late Thanksgiving, there were six days less in the Christmas shopping season of 2019 compared to 2018. Cyber ​​Monday fell in December 2019.

Sales in electronics stores and appliances increased 0.6% over the previous month. Clothing store sales increased 1.6% over the previous month, and sales of sporting goods increased 0.9% in December.

December department store sales fell 0.8% since November and decreased 5.5% from the previous year. Meanwhile, sales in non-stored retailers, a category that includes Internet merchants such as

Amazon.com Inc.,

They rose 0.2% in the month and rose 19.2% compared to the previous year.

After the revisions, December marked the third consecutive month in which retail sales increased at a rate of 0.3%, suggesting that consumers headed towards 2020 on a solid basis.

Justin Beebe

from Wilmington, Del., recently bought a folding bike to go to his advertising job, reduce driving and save money on gas.

While the bike was a one-time purchase of around $ 2,000, “it seemed worthwhile over time, saving rather than spending,” said the 29-year-old.

Consumer spending was the main driver of economic growth in mid-2019, as companies withdrew the investment. Looking ahead to 2020, the fundamentals that underpin consumer spending (low unemployment and increased income) remain strong.

“The US consumer is quite healthy,” executive director of Delta Air Lines Inc.

Ed bastian

He said Tuesday. The airline said lower fuel prices and strong demand from vacation travelers helped increase quarterly earnings.

Still,

objective Corp.

He said Wednesday that Christmas sales from November to December were slow, increasing only 1.4% for stores and digital channels operating for at least 12 months. The Minneapolis-based chain cited weak sales of toys and electronic products, two categories that are big sellers during the gift season.

The Commerce Department report on Thursday showed that car and truck sales fell 1.3% in December. Gas station sales advanced 2.8%. Restaurant sales increased 0.2% over the previous month. Those categories are less related to the delivery of Christmas gifts.

After the report, data signature

IHS Markit

It reduced its estimate of monitoring the growth of gross domestic product of the fourth quarter by 0.3 percentage points to 2.3%, citing the softness in the main retail sales.

Write to Harriet Torry at [email protected]

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