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Retail Sales Up 0.8% as Americans Spend More This Holiday Season Than Expected

Economists had predicted retail sales would grow by 0.3 percent

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• December 15, 2017 10:35 am

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In November, retail sales at brick-and-mortar stores, online shops, and restaurants increased by 0.8 percent from the previous month, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The growth seen in November exceeded expectations of economists who predicted retail sales would only grow by 0.3 percent. According to the Journal, sales were fueled by confidence in the economy, income gains, modest inflation, and buoyant financial markets.

"The boost includes in-store and online spending at brick-and-mortar retailers such as Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and Nordstrom Inc., which clocked the largest year-over-year November sales increase in seven years," the article states. "Home-furnishing stores and electronics-and-appliance stores also logged strong spending numbers, despite competition from online-shopping websites, which also posted robust gains."

The retail sales growth seen in November suggests that the economy is on track for strong growth in the fourth quarter of the year. Atlanta's Federal Reserve Bank predicts that the economy will grow by 3.3 percent from October to December.

Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist at the National Retail Federation, a group that represents retail stores, told the Journal, "It's an impressive start to the holiday season and probably the best in the last few years. When you put the pieces together, job and wage gains, modest inflation, healthy balance sheet and elevated consumer confidence … there's an improved willingness to spend."

Some business owners say they feel a boost because of a stronger labor market, noticing higher foot traffic that indicates consumers are feeling more confident.

"The National Retail Federation expects consumers nationwide to spend about 4 percent more during the holiday shopping season than they had in 2016," the article states. "That would make 2017 the strongest holiday season since 2014. Mr. Kleinhenz said the U.S. appears to be on track to meet that goal."

Published under: Economy