Retail sales in U.S. climbed more than forecast in December

Holiday Sales

In the days after Thanksgiving known as the Black Friday weekend, spending dropped for the first time since 2009 with merchants extending deep discounts, according to the National Retail Federation. That period included the start of December since Thanksgiving fell later in the calendar last year.

Store traffic plunged 10.2% in the week ended Dec. 7 compared with a 2.3% gain in the week after Thanksgiving in the prior year, according to data from researcher ShopperTrak.

Conversely, online shopping surged about 20% to a record on Cyber Monday as consumers took to the Internet to buy gifts. Sales increased 1.4% at non-store retailers in December after a 1.6% gain the prior month, today’s report showed. That was the biggest two-month advance since October-November 2012.

A more muted pace of job gains in December may have limited consumers’ wherewithal to spend. Employment rose in December at the slowest pace in almost three years, in part because bad weather blanketed the U.S., ending months of improving employment growth.

December Payrolls

The 74,000 gain in payrolls was the weakest since January 2011 and smaller than the most-pessimistic projection in a Bloomberg survey of 90 economists, Labor Department figures showed last week. The advance followed a 241,000 jump in November. The unemployment rate declined to 6.7%, the lowest since October 2008, as more people left the labor force.

At the same time, consumer confidence in the U.S. rose to a five-month high in December as Americans were feeling more upbeat about the economy. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan consumer sentiment index climbed to 82.5 from 75.1 in November.

www.bloomberg.com

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