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December 15, 2017

US retail sales on track to meet holiday forecast

US retail sales are on track to meet holiday sales forecasts as shoppers help kick off an "impressive" start to the key trading season with solid spending by American households

By Beth Wright

US retail sales are on track to meet holiday sales forecasts as shoppers help kick off an “impressive” start to the key trading season with solid spending by American households.

New figures from the US Census Bureau show retail trade sales were up 0.8% in November from the previous month and were 6.3% above the same month last year. 

Sales at clothing stores were up 0.7% from October, and 2.8% higher than November last year. Sales at general merchandise stores were flat on the month before, and were 3.6% higher year-on-year, while department store retailers booked an uptick of 0.3% on October, and a rise of 1.7% year-on-year.

Meanwhile, sales at sporting goods and hobby stores were up by 0.9% on the month, and by 2.9% on the year before.

However, separate figures from the National Retail Federation (NRF) suggest clothing and accessories sales in November were up 0.7% seasonally adjusted over October and up 4.9% unadjusted year-over-year.

“This has been an impressive start to the holiday season, perhaps the best in the last few years,” says NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz. “The combination of job and wage gains, modest inflation and a healthy balance sheet along with elevated consumer confidence has led to solid holiday spending by American households.

“Today’s report is indicative of a strong consumer who is confident about the current and future state of the economy. The improved willingness to spend and the purchasing power of consumers will continue to be an economic driver of growth into 2018.”

November’s results indicate that retail sales for the holiday season – defined as November and December – are on track to meet or exceed NRF’s holiday sales forecast for an increase between 3.6% and 4% over last year.

Other specifics, according to NRF, include a 10.5% rise in online and other non-store sales, reflecting the growth of online shopping.

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