December Retail Sales Rose by 0.3%

This morning, the Commerce Department said that December retail sales rose by 0.3%. This report is important to watch because it’s often a good indicator of consumer spending. Also, retail sales growth for November was revised higher to +0.3%.

This suggests that the U.S. economy ended 2019 at a moderate pace.

Excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, retail sales jumped 0.5% last month after falling by a downwardly revised 0.1% in November.

The so-called core retail sales correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product. They were previously reported to have edged up 0.1% in November.

Consumer spending accounts for two-thirds of the economy.

Growth estimates for the fourth quarter are as high as a 2.5% rate, in part because of a drop in imports, which compressed the trade deficit.

In December, auto sales fell 1.3%, the biggest drop since last January, after increasing 1.5% in November. Higher gasoline prices lifted receipts at service stations, which jumped 2.8%. Online and mail-order retail sales rose 0.2% after being unchanged in November.

Sales at electronics and appliance stores rebounded 0.6% in December. Receipts at building material stores surged 1.4% and sales at clothing stores accelerated 1.6%. Spending at furniture stores edged up 0.1%.

Americans also spent more at restaurants and bars, with sales rising 0.2% last month. Spending at hobby, musical instrument and book stores rebounded 0.9%.

Also, weekly jobless claims fell to 204,000. That’s a very good number.