Holiday Sales Report Shows Boost in 2016

Holiday Sales Shopping

For all the headlines this month of weak department store sales and closing stores, retailers enjoyed a stellar holiday season, buoyed by higher wages and soaring consumer confidence.

Sales at USA retailers rose less than expected in December to finish the year on soft note, signaling potentially weaker economic growth in the final quarter of 2016.

Retail sales in the USA increased by slightly less than expected in the month of December, according to a report released by the Commerce Department on Friday. The result was a tenth of a percentage point below an analyst consensus forecast. Over the month, department store sales fell 0.6 percent from November.

Sales were up 4.1 percent from December 2015.

In recent weeks, gloomy news has abounded about how the retail industry held up during the crucial holiday season: Macy's saw its sales sink 2.7 percent and announced it will slash 10,000 jobs. What's more, home values have risen, as has the stock market, making shoppers feel wealthier, and more eager to shop. The increase for the fourth quarter over the same period a year ago was 12.8%.

Former Iranian president Rafsanjani dead: agencies
His funeral will be held in Tehran on Tuesday, his relative and aide Hossein Marashi was quoted as saying by Fars news agency . And his son, Mehdi Hashemi Rafsanjani, was jailed in 2015 after being convicted of "security offences and financial crimes".

Strong auto sales, which were at a record level in 2016, helped lift overall retail sales.

The Fed raised its benchmark overnight interest rate last month by 25 basis points to a range of 0.50 percent to 0.75 percent.

Sales at auto dealers increased 2.4 percent last month, the most since April, while receipts at service stations rose 2 percent as fuel costs climbed.

The figures also pointed to a continuation of consumer trends in shopping, with online businesses seeing rising sales, while department stores moved fewer goods off the shelves. The NRF reported that "non-store sales", which include online and catalogue purchases, were up 12.6 percent compared with 2015. Wholesale prices excluding food and energy rose 0.2 percent from the previous month following a 0.4 percent rise.

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