2017 retail sales the best in three years

Kohls stock price retail

At J.C. Penney, meantime, even an optimistic outlook from CEO Marvin Ellison couldn't buoy the retailer's shares after investors were underwhelmed by the company's 3.4 percent gain for holiday sales.

There were $495.4 billion in retail and food service sales in December, up 0.4% from the previous month and 5.4% from December 2016, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. There were increases across all retail categories except sporting goods, which was down 0.5% year-over year.

Consumer confidence is on the rise, with 2017 ending on a high note. The gain represented the largest increase in the period since the 5.2% year-over-year gain enjoyed in 2010, the organization noted. NRF had forecast that non-store sales, which include online sales, would grow between 11% and 15% to between $137.7 billion and $142.6 billion.

GlobalData Retail managing director Neil Saunders cited these factors: Consumer confidence at 17-year highs, steady wage growth of about 3 percent, the booming stock market, and the robust housing sector. "Whether they shopped in-store, online or on their phones, consumers were in the mood to spend, and retailers were there to offer them good value for their money".

Start your workday the right way with the news that matters most. It marked the fourth consecutive month of increase for the industry after a bruising year strewn with bankruptcies and department store closures largely from the shift to online shopping. "We think the willingness to spend and growing purchasing power seen during the holidays will be key drivers of the 2018 economy", Kleinhenz said. Furniture stores, and building material and garden equipment (two separate categories), both enjoyed annual gains of 9.9 percent.

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December retail sales - a measure of consumer spending at stores, restaurants and websites - rose 4.2 percent, the most in three years, the Commerce report concluded, while e-commerce sales rose 1.2 percent from November and 12.7 percent from the prior December.

U.S. retail sales grew more strongly than expected last month amid especially strong demand for building materials and for on-line retailers.

Receipts at restaurants and bars gained 0.7 percent, the biggest increase seen since January. Retailers closed a record 7,000 US stores a year ago, while dozens of big-name companies, including Gymboree, RadioShack and BCBG Max Azria, filed for bankruptcy.

For the week, the Dow surged up by 2 percent, while the Nasdaq and the S&P 500 jumped by 1.7 percent and 1.6 percent, respectively.

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