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.
Holiday sales grew in every retail sector except sporting goods, according to the National Retail Federation.
Consumer confidence is at 17-year highs, equity markets are in record territory, housing continues to post steady gains and wage growth has been steadily around 3% [or more], according to a note from Retail Metrics President Ken Perkins emailed to Retail Dive.
While strong sales were widely expected, many retailers were particularly hungry to prove themselves this past holiday season, following a year marred by tumbling stock prices, management shakeups, a slew of store closures and several industry bankruptcies. Nonstore Retailers were up 12.7% from December 2016, while Building Materials and Garden Equipment and Supplies Dealers were up 9.9% from past year. "Overall, though, these data are consistent with the very elevated consumer confidence numbers, and they imply that the saving rate, which is already very low, continues to decline", said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics. Taken together, analysts said, that represented the best holiday spending performance since 2005. "We think the willingness to spend and growing purchasing power seen during the holidays will be key drivers of the 2018 economy". Sales at auto dealerships increased by 0.2 percent, while sales at service stations were unchanged. Sales at sporting goods and hobby stores fell by 1.6 percent, the largest decline seen since November 2016.
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