2017 retail sales the best in three years

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In December, U.S. retail sales increased as households purchased a range of goods and the figures for the month prior were revised higher, which indicates the economy entered 2018 with strong momentum.

Both December's increase in retail sales and the strong upward revision to November data strengthens economists' expectations of an acceleration in consumer spending for the fourth quarter.

In December, electronics and appliance stores sales dropped 0.2 percent. General merchandise sales rose 0.1% from November and were up 4.4% for 2017, and department store sales fell 1.1% from November and rose 0.5% year over year. "Consumers are still buying but where they are buying, and how they are buying is changing and will continue to evolve as price transparency increases and e-commerce and brick-and-mortar operations of retailers continue to converge into one seamless consumer experience", he said. Consumer spending has continued to rise, supported by factors including low unemployment and rising consumer confidence, though the rate of growth has eased in recent years. Retailers closed a record 7,000 USA stores a year ago, while dozens of big-name companies, including Gymboree, RadioShack and BCBG Max Azria, filed for bankruptcy. Sales of clothing and accessories were up 2.7 percent. The Dow advanced 228.46 points or 0.9% to 25,803.19, the Nasdaq climbed 49.28 points or 0.7% to 7,261.06 and the S&P 500 rose 18.68 points or 0.7% to 2,786.24.

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Friday's results exceeded the holiday forecast by the National Retail Federation of between $678.8 billion and $682 billion, which would have been a rise of 3.6 percent to 4 percent.

Receipts at restaurants and bars gained 0.7 percent, the biggest increase seen since January.

"Results are even better than anything we could have hoped for", federation CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement.

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"When that got passed and companies started to announce bonuses and wage increases, the consumer felt very much more at ease going into the holiday season and spending", Kleinhenz said in an interview, adding the possible tax cuts had not been accounted for in the NRF's forecast.

Combined with last month's glowing consumer spending data, economists say, the usa economy is showing signs of strength going into the new year. Among the top 30 cities, Philadelphia ranked No. 12 in terms of total dollars spent in November and December.

Data on retail sales can be volatile from month to month, aren't adjusted for inflation and don't include spending on most services such as housing and health care. "That just continues to grow, especially among retailers that are embracing the digital transition better than others".

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