Retail sales up 0.4% in December as vehicle sales slow

Sales at furniture and home furnishings stores totaled an estimated $9.06 billion, up from a revised $8.95 billion in January 2016, the U.S. Department of Commerce reported.

Retail sales in the USA rose more than expected in January, bolstering optimism about consumer spending being able to push economic growth at the beginning of 2017, official data showed on Wednesday.

Core retail sales (excluding autos) was also stronger than expected with a reported rise of 0.8% versus an expected 0.4% gain and against an increase of 0.2% in the prior month.

Gasoline Stations sales were up 14.2% from January 2016, while Nonstore Retailers were up 12.0% from a year ago.

Excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, retail sales increased 0.4 percent after an upwardly revised 0.4 percent gain in December. Consumer spending accounts for as much as 70% of US economic growth. Indeed, over the past 12 months, retail sales have jumped 5.6 percent, a healthy rebound from a year-over-year pace of just 2.2 percent in August.

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Purchases at restaurants and bars climbed 1.4 percent.

"Sales are growing at a decent clip, but the surge in consumers' confidence since the election is yet to translate into stronger spending", Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, told the Associated Press.

Beyond motor vehicles, retail spending in January was mostly higher.

On a month on month basis, December retail sales declined 1.9 per cent from November.

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