Retail Sales Up in January: Will This Set the Trend for 2017?

2/17/2017
Zacks.com
U.S. retail sales rose in January, as people went on to buy electronics and appliances, spend more at restaurants and gasoline stations, and bought a range of other goods. This indicates that the economy is quite steady at the moment and is ready for a big transition from Obama’s administration to Trump’s regime. An improving job scenario, rising wages and spiraling confidence led consumers to spend more and the result is visible.
 
The Commerce Department stated that U.S. retail and food services sales for the first month of 2017 increased 0.4% to $472.1 billion, following a revised upward reading of 1% growth registered in December. Retail sales increased 5.6% from Jan 2016. This shows that consumer spending – accounting for over two-thirds of U.S. economic activity and one of the pivotal factors driving the economy – remains strong.
 
The report suggested that sales at auto dealers declined 1.4%, while receipts at gasoline stations advanced 2.3% due to higher fuel prices. Excluding motor vehicles and automotive parts, sales rose 0.8% last month. Sales at non-store retailers remained flat in January but increased 12% from the prior-year period.
 
The recent rebound in oil prices, an encouraging employment picture, and a gradual improvement in the manufacturing sector and housing market signal that the economy is on a recovery mode.
 
According to the “advance estimate” unveiled by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the U.S. economy expanded 1.9% in the final quarter of 2016. Moreover, the economy added 227,000 jobs in January, while the unemployment rate was at 4.8%. The favorable economic scenario may prompt the Federal Reserve to increase the benchmark interest rate at least twice this year.
 
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