U.S. retail sales rise 0.6 pct in December amid strong holiday spending

  • World
  • Thursday, 18 Jan 2024

WASHINGTON, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) -- U.S. retail sales rose 0.6 percent in December from the previous month amid strong holiday spending, the U.S. Commerce Department reported on Wednesday.

Advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for December 2023, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were 709.9 billion U.S. dollars.

Retail trade sales were up 0.6 percent from November 2023, and up 4.8 percent above last year. Nonstore retailers were up 9.7 percent from last year, while food services and drinking places were up 11.1 percent from December 2022.

Retail sales in December were stronger than expectations, with a pickup in clothing and accessory stores as well as online nonstore businesses, according to a report by CNBC.

Retail sales in December were up 5.6 percent above December 2022. The numbers were not adjusted for inflation.

Total sales for the 12 months of 2023 were up 3.2 percent from 2022.

"Today's retail sales report for December showed consumer spending picked up speed in the final month of the year," Tim Quinlan and Shannon Grein, economists with the Wells Fargo Securities, wrote in an analysis.

"Not all the dollars spent found their way into holiday spending categories, but a surge in control group sales means upside risk for Q4 PCE forecasts," they said, referring to Personal Consumption Expenditures price index, the Federal Reserve's preferred inflation gauge.

On inflation, the central bank is "making real progress," but "we still have a ways to go," Fed Chair Jerome Powell said at a press conference after the Fed's latest policy meeting in December, when the Fed left interest rates unchanged at a 22-year high of 5.25 percent to 5.5 percent.

"No one is declaring victory. That would be premature. And we can't be guaranteed of this progress," Powell said. "So, we're moving carefully in making that assessment of whether we need to do more or not."

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