Jan. 16, 2013 – Strong auto sales and higher-than-expected holiday sales were key factors behind December’s 0.5 percent retail sales increase, noted NAFCU Research Associate Doug Christman.
The Census Bureau, which reported the data Tuesday, also revised up November retail sales from 0.3 percent to 0.4 percent. “Retail sales in November also benefitted from stronger-than-expected holiday sales, but holiday sales for both November and December were still slower in 2012 than in the previous two years,” Christman said.
A 1.6 percent jump in sales of autos and auto parts led all retail categories in December. Sales dropped most severely for gas stations (-1.6 percent) and electronics and appliance stores (-0.3 percent).
Core retail sales, which exclude light vehicles and gasoline, increased 0.6 percent in December, while retail sales of autos and gas increased 0.4 percent.
On a year-over-year basis, retail sales grew from 4.1 percent in November to 4.7 percent in December. Core retail sales increased 4.4 percent from a year ago, while auto and gas increased 5.5 percent on a year-over-year basis.
Looking ahead, improvement in the housing and labor markets should continue to support economic growth into the new year, Christman said. “However, uncertainty over government spending cuts and the debt ceiling will continue to weigh on business confidence and hiring, and that will have an impact on retail sales.”
For more, view NAFCU's Macro Data Flash.