U.S. retail sales strengthened in December,thanks to a late holiday-shopping rush that wrapped up a more-moderate year of spending at the nation’s merchants.
The value of receipts at retailers rose 0.3%, matching the prior month’s revised gain, and climbed 5.8% from December 2018, Commerce Department figures showed Thursday. Stronger sales occurred in all major categories except motor vehicle dealers. Excluding autos, retail purchases climbed 0.7% from the prior month, the most since July.
Closely watched retail “control group” sales increased 0.5%, just above the median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists. The core measure excludes food services, car dealers, building-materials stores and gasoline stations, giving a better sense of underlying consumer demand.
For all of 2019, the value of retail sales increased 3.6%, a step down from an almost 5% gain in 2018 that was the largest annual advance in six years and reflected a boost from tax cuts. At the same time, consumers will probably remain the economy’s chief source of fuel as companies continue to hire and household sentiment stays elevated.
Separate figures from the Labor Department on Thursday showed jobless claims declined to a six-week low.
Personal consumption, which includes spending on services and merchandise, posted the largest back-to-back quarterly gains since 2014 in last year’s second and third quarters. Control-group retail sales decreased an annualized 0.3% in the fourth quarter compared with a 6% rate in the three months ended in September, indicating household spending cooled.
Source : Bloomberg