Tuesday, October 6th2.0°C

US retail sales rise 0.2 per cent in December, but traditional holiday shopping weak

WASHINGTON - Americans bought more clothes in December, shopped more frequently online and ate out more often, providing a boost to economic growth at the end of the year. But sales at most traditional stores declined, as the holiday shopping season ended on a lacklustre note.

Retail sales rose 0.2 per cent last month, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. That follows strong gains in October and November, helped by healthy auto sales.

In December, car and truck sales fell 1.8 per cent due to colder weather and Black Friday discounts that moved some sales into November. The decline held back overall retail spending that did show some signs of underlying strength.

Excluding spending on autos, gas and building supplies, retail sales rose a solid 0.7 per cent. Economists say this figure is a better proxy for confidence in the economy, because it does not include the most volatile categories.

The report showed less spending at traditional holiday outlets. But the December gain should be enough to help generate 3 per cent annualized growth in the final three months of 2013, said Paul Dales, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics.

"If we're right in thinking that the underlying trend in jobs growth is still improving, households will continue to spend more freely in 2014," Dales said.

Many Americans are changing the way they shop during the holidays. Online sales grew 1.4 per cent in December after a 1.6 per cent gain in November. Consumers also spent more at clothing stores, grocers and restaurants last month.

Still, consumers spent less at the types of stores usually measured for holiday shopping. Furniture and electronics purchases fell last month. And sales at department stores fell a whopping 0.7 per cent in December — and 3.3 per cent for the full year.

For all of 2013, total retail sales rose 4.2 per cent, the weakest gain in four years.

The retail sales report is the first look at last month's consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 per cent of all economic activity. Businesses had been anticipating that consumer spending would perk up to propel growth going forward.

Gains in consumer spending during October and November pointed toward strong growth to close out the year, as did increases in factory activity.

Auto purchases surged until December, when they were basically flat compared with a year ago. Still, for the year, car sales rose 8 per cent to 15.6 million. That's the best pace since 2007, before the Great Recession began.

The modest gains in retail sales last month comes after the government said Friday that job gains slowed in December. Stronger higher builds consumer confidence and leads to more retail spending.

Just 74,000 jobs were added in December, the Labor Department said. The unemployment rate fell to 6.7 per cent from 7 per cent, largely because 347,000 unemployed Americans dropped out of the workforce. The economy had been creating an average of 213,500 jobs a month from August to November.

The Canadian Press

Read more Business News


Recent Trending

Today's Market
S&P TSX13607.58+55.38
S&P CDNX531.16+1.25
S&P 5001988.18+1.13
CDN Dollar0.7647+0.0003
Natural Gas2.466+0.016

Okanagan Companies
Pacific Safety0.215+0.000
QHR Technologies Inc1.22+0.03
Metalex Ventures0.06+0.00
Russel Metals22.93+0.42
Copper Mountain Mining0.53+0.03
Colorado Resources0.07-0.01
ReliaBrand Inc0.004-0.000
Sunrise Resources Ltd0.02+0.00
Mission Ready Services0.09-0.00
Decisive Dividend Corp3.48-0.01
Diamcor Mining0.95+0.05



243187411-2475 Dobbin Road
2 bedrooms 2 baths
more details
Click here to feature your property
Please wait... loading

Perfect (reno'd) home

Photo: Thinkstock.comHow many times have you found a home in the perfect location, but it needs too much work as per the home inspection? There is a great program available through most lenders that w...

Living beyond 100

Photo: ContributedThere was a time most careers involved an apprenticeship of one sort another. Some official, others involving years of servitude, and others time simply spent watching and emulating ...

5 Claim misconceptions

Photo: Thinkstock.comIf you have been hurt in an accident or as a result of medical negligence you will likely look to your friends and family for some advice on how to deal with the situation. These ...




Member of BC Press Council