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Retail Sales: Solid December, Revisions Show November Even Stronger

January 12, 2018
Bottom Line: November's strong gains were revised even higher as growth in December sales came in nearly in-line with already strong expectations. Non-store retailers (89% Amazon in by some estimates) were very strong in November and solid in December with annualized gains in the 4th Quarter of nearly 25% seasonally adjusted. Furniture and electronics also saw accelerating spending in the 4th Quarter. Overall on a trend basis core retail sales saw steady acceleration in gains over the course of 2017, while headline sales gains were held back by decelerating sales growth in autos.

Retail Sales ROSE by 0.4% in December, compared with the market consensus for an increase of 0.5%. The November estimate was revised from 0.79% to 0.85%. Retail sales are now 5.4% ABOVE their year ago level; just a year ago, the year over year growth rate was 3.8%. Spending at motor vehicle dealers climbed by 0.2%.

Core Retail Sales ROSE by 0.4%, compared with the market consensus for an increase 0.3%. The November estimate was revised from 1.04% to 1.33%. Core retail sales are now 6.3% ABOVE their year ago level; just a year ago, the year over year growth rate was 2.9%.

In December, gains at:

  • nonstore retailers (+1.2%),
  • building materials (+1.2%),
  • grocery stores (+0.5%), and
  • health and personal care (+0.4%).

were partially offset by declines in:

  • miscellaneous retailers (-2.9%),
  • sporting goods, hobbies, etc. (-1.6%),
  • clothing stores (-0.3%), and
  • electronic and appliance stores (-0.2%.)

Core Retail Sales ex Gasoline ROSE by 0.42% and are now 6.0% ABOVE their year ago level; just a year ago, the year over year growth rate was a moderate 2.5%