See-Saw Start to 2017 Retail Spending

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Retail spending to start 2017 continues to see-saw between weak-to-modest growth. In January, sales improved slightly from a weak December, according to the latest government data.

So far, the numbers do not suggest that a big jump in spending is in the works despite a post-election surge in consumer spending confidence. The confidence surge led by Boomers is likely being offset by weak confidence among Millennials. See more on confidence here.

Here’s what the numbers for sales excluding autos, fuel, and restaurants say:Monthly retail sales trends and insights

  • Seasonally adjusted retail growth improved to 3.8% in January from 3.2% growth in December. On an unadjusted basis, growth improved to 3.5% from 3.1% in December.Retail Sales Quarterly Trend
  • Holiday strength was focused in November in unadjusted sales (+5.0). Otherwise, retail sales have been between weak and modest. Go here for: the initial recap of holiday results.
  • On a quarterly trend, the January numbers suggest a slight improvement from growth of 3.3% to 3.6% in the fourth quarter, depending on the adjusted or unadjusted result. Growth remains slightly below the year-ago pace of 4.0%-plus.

Note that the retail sales measures referenced are for sales excluding autos, fuel, and restaurants. For that retail measure, MacroSavvy™ had forecast a 3.5% holiday gain. See the details here.

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