US retail sales flat in Dec but full-year spending rises by 7.7%

12 January 2012 22:42  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--US retail sales in December were essentially flat with November, the Department of Commerce (DOC) said on Thursday, but total 2011 consumer spending was up by 7.7% from the previous year.

The department said retail spending last month was at a seasonally adjusted pace of $400.6bn (€316.5bn), just 0.1% higher than the November level.

The flat sales figures for December were seen as disappointing by economists, many of whom had predicted a 0.3% bump in consumer buying amid the peak holiday shopping period of the year.

Consumer spending is the principal driving force of the US economy, accounting for as much as 70% of all production and commercial activity.

Although the December numbers were well below expectations, the department noted that retail sales during the critical last three months of the year were up by 7% from the same period in 2010.

Citing the three-month year-end figures, the National Retail Federation (NRF) said the data was “welcome news for an economic recovery that continues to be sluggish”.

NRF president Matthew Shay said while “the economy still has a critical hold on consumers’ purchase decisions, this strength in spending could continue into 2012”.

($1 = €0.79)

Paul Hodges studies key influences shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy

By: Joe Kamalick
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