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13 January 2018, 04:03 | Joann Bryant
The results mean retail sales grew 4.2% in 2017, the most since 2014. Sales at auto dealerships increased by 0.2 percent, while sales at service stations were unchanged.
U.S. Federal Reserve officials expected consumer spending will continue moderate growth in the near term, underpinned by the strength of the labor market, further improvements in household net worth, and buoyant consumer sentiment, according to minutes of Fed's policy meeting in December previous year. Sales in the fourth quarter as a whole increased 5.5% compared with the same period a year earlier.
December's retail sales growth shows "the dire predictions of the demise of retail are premature", Moody's vice president Mickey Chadha said.
Building materials and supplies stores were up 8.1 percent.
Furniture and home furnishings stores increased 7.5% unadjusted year-over-year.
Clothing and accessories stores increased 2.7% unadjusted year-over-year.
Early results for the season from Mastercard SpendingPulse, which tracked spending through December 24, reported holiday sales grew by 4.9%.
Sporting good stores were the one area where the industry posted a decline, with sales down 0.5 percent.
Health and personal care stores rose 2.2 percent.
The data in Friday's report "are consistent with the very elevated consumer confidence numbers, and they imply that the saving rate, which is already very low, continues to decline", wrote Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics, in a note to clients. "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".
Another key indicator, the U.S. Labor Department's consumer price index, rose 0.3%, the government said Friday. Among the top 30 cities, Philadelphia ranked No. 12 in terms of total dollars spent in November and December. Online spending grew 11.5 percent during the holidays to $138.4 billion.
"Any time you have a season like this, it can't be bad for retailers", said Glenn Fodor, First Data's head of information and analytics solutions. "That just continues to grow, especially among retailers that are embracing the digital transition better than others".
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