Home Logon FTA Investment Managers Blog Subscribe About Us Contact Us

Search by Ticker, Keyword or CUSIP       

Blog Home
   Brian Wesbury
Chief Economist
X •  LinkedIn
   Bob Stein
Deputy Chief Economist
X •  LinkedIn
  Retail Sales Rose 0.6% in December
Posted Under: Data Watch • Retail Sales
Supporting Image for Blog Post


Implications:  The US consumer is doing fine, with the first estimate of December retail sales coming in very close to consensus expectations.  Nothing very surprising in today's report.  Auto sales were strong, which we already knew from automakers unit sales reports last week; gas station sales were strong, which we knew based on higher gas prices; and non-store sales were up briskly, which we saw with all those package deliveries throughout December.  General merchandise stores lost ground, which is consistent with recent headlines, like the Limited shutting its stores.  A decade ago, general merchandise stores made 51% of sales through non-store activities; now non-store retail equals a record 89% of sales at those same merchandisers.  Expect that trend to continue in the years ahead.  The one potential surprise is that restaurants & bars had a weak December, with sales down 0.8%.  We wouldn't be surprised to see that figure revised upward in the months ahead.  Overall sales are up 4.1% in the past year and we expect that trend to accelerate.  Sales are up at a 5.2% annual rate in the past six months and a 6.0% rate in the past three months.  Although "core" sales, which exclude autos, building materials, and gas, were unchanged in December, it's not unusual for even these sales to take a breather month a few times per year.  Consumers are in relatively good shape.  Job growth continues, wages gains are accelerating, and consumer debt service obligations are very low by historical standards.  In other recent news, new claims for jobless benefits increased 10,000 last week to a still-modest 247,000.  Continuing claims dropped 29,000 to 2.09 million.  In other news this morning, inventories surged 0.7% in November, the largest gain for any month since 2015.  Plugging all these data into our GDP models suggests real GDP grew around a 2% annual rate in the fourth quarter, consistent with the Plow Horse growth we've seen since the recovery started in mid-2009.  Watch for better policies and faster growth in 2017.    

Click here for PDF version

Posted on Friday, January 13, 2017 @ 10:44 AM • Post Link Print this post Printer Friendly

These posts were prepared by First Trust Advisors L.P., and reflect the current opinion of the authors. They are based upon sources and data believed to be accurate and reliable. Opinions and forward looking statements expressed are subject to change without notice. This information does not constitute a solicitation or an offer to buy or sell any security.
The information presented is not intended to constitute an investment recommendation for, or advice to, any specific person. By providing this information, First Trust is not undertaking to give advice in any fiduciary capacity within the meaning of ERISA, the Internal Revenue Code or any other regulatory framework. Financial professionals are responsible for evaluating investment risks independently and for exercising independent judgment in determining whether investments are appropriate for their clients.
Follow First Trust:  
First Trust Portfolios L.P.  Member SIPC and FINRA. (Form CRS)   •  First Trust Advisors L.P. (Form CRS)
Home |  Important Legal Information |  Privacy Policy |  California Privacy Policy |  Business Continuity Plan |  FINRA BrokerCheck
Copyright © 2024 All rights reserved.