Entries in Retail Sales (35)


Economy Gains Strength as Retail Sales Jump 1.1%

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- In yet another positive sign for the economy, retail sales for February rose more than expected, tamping down worries that higher gas prices and taxes would take a bite out of consumer spending.

Retail sales jumped 1.1 percent in February, according to the Commerce Department, the biggest increase in five months.  Consumer spending is an important measure of economic growth because it makes up two thirds of the economy.

So-called core sales -- sales minus automobiles, gasoline and building materials -- rose 0.4 percent.  The core sales rise is a sign that consumers are holding on despite high taxes.

There may be yet another bump in retail sales in coming months as tax refunds are mailed out.

We saw hints of this strong report in the February unemployment numbers that showed increased retail hiring.

Economists have worried that consumers would reign in spending as a temporary 2 percent cut in payroll taxes expired, meaning fewer dollars in every U.S. paycheck.

“At least so far, the increase in taxes has had minimal impact on household spending, showing that the economy retains a lot of momentum,” economist Joel Naroff of Naroff Economic Advisors said in a note.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


December Retail Sales Top Forecast

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Retail sales climbed 0.5 percent in December from November to $415.7 billion, the Commerce Department reported on Tuesday.  That beat the median of forecasters surveyed by Bloomberg News, who expected a 0.2 percent rise for the key shopping month.

December’s increase is slightly better than the 0.4 percent increase in November.

Car sales, including auto parts, led the rise in retail sales with a 1.6 percent increase.

Retailers had previously reported a strong holiday shopping season, driven by last-minute shoppers.  The holiday shopping season is especially important for the retail industry, with some stores making as much as 40 percent of sales in that period.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Retail Sales Jump 0.8% in July; First Increase in Four Months

Comstock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Retail sales increased 0.8 percent last month with department stores, auto dealerships and electronics outlets reporting stronger than expected sales, according to a report from the U.S. Commerce Department. It is the first time retail sales have increased in four months.

“Sales are coming back,” said Diane Swonk, chief economist at Mesirow Financial in Chicago, “but off a very low base. And we're still digging ourselves out of the trench that we dug during the Spring months.”

Increased spending could be a sign that consumers are gaining confidence in the economy.

But compared to last year, the economy is still barely growing, Swonk said, and these latest numbers were fueled mostly by upper-income households.

“What we've seen is middle and lower income households appear to be hurting worse this back to school season as we move into August, where higher income households are doing a little better and trying to make up for some of that slack,” Swonk said. “Of course the unevenness of retail sales across price points and sectors is where the story is going into the election.”

Drought conditions and high temperatures likely contributed to strong online sales, Swonk said.

Higher prices for fuel and food could keep spending tepid in the coming months.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Retailers Report Stronger-Than-Expected Sales in July

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- There are signs that the back-to-school shopping season is off to a good start.

Retailers are reporting strong gains last month and a report from research firm Thomson Reuters finds three quarters of them say sales exceeded expectations.

“As long as we get consumers spending, that's really the key to getting this economy going,” said economist Joel Naroff with Naroff Economic Advisors in Holland, Pa. “And it looks like, at least in July, they spent a little bit more money.”

High temperatures throughout the month of July “may have driven people into the malls just to cool off” and, most importantly, to open their wallets while they were there, Naroff said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


December Retail Sales Fall Short of Expectations

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Retail sales in December rose to $400.6 billion, an increase of 0.1 percent but less than the 0.3 to 0.4 percent many economists had expected, the Commerce Department said Thursday.

Customers responded to deep discounts during the holiday season, though analysts are waiting to see if consumers will continue their spending pace in 2012.

The Commerce Department also revised November’s retail sales figure to an 0.4 percent increase from 0.2 percent.  The figure was 6.5 percent above sales in December 2010.

Retail sales were boosted in part by strong car sales in December.  Excluding automobiles, retail sales dropped 0.2 percent.

For the year, total sales increased 7.7 percent from 2010, the strongest year since 1999, Bloomberg reported.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Gift that Keeps Giving: $41 Billion in Unused Gift Cards Since 2005

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- As gift cards grow in popularity with consumers, for retailers they are the gift that keeps giving. Some $41 billion in gift cards have not been used since 2005, according to the research firm TowerGroup, and much of that cash will go straight to the bottom lines of the issuers.

Gift card transaction volume in the U.S. passed the $100 billion mark in 2011 -- a new industry high, TowerResearch found in a recent report.

About 85 percent of gift cards are used within 60 days. The unused value from gift cards has actually shrunk over time in part because of new regulations, according to Brian Riley, senior research director of TowerGroup.

Riley says the $41 billion of unused value since 2005 includes fees and value lost after expiration dates. But hidden fees and expiration dates for gift cards have decreased substantially since the Card Accountability, Responsibility, and Disclosure (CARD) Act of 2009.

In 2007 alone, TowerResearch estimated $8 billion in lost gift card value. That amount has steadily fallen to about $2 billion in lost value for 2011.

That's good news for consumers but still an awful lot of money thrown out the window.

"That loss number has really shrunken in the last couple years," Riley said. "Since the CARD Act came into play, it has eliminated expiration dates and junk fees on the cards."

The CARD Act established that most gift cards can not expire until five years after the last load onto the card. There are two major types of gift cards. Most "closed" gift cards, which are store-specific, tend not to have any expiration date. "Open" gift cards are issued by the four U.S.-based major payment networks: American Express, Discover, MasterCard, and Visa.

Riley said regulatory requirements have helped protect consumers, but the gift card industry could do more -- like give consumers the ability to register a gift card or make it easy to do so.

One company that he said has a "really good program" is Starbucks. Customers can go online to link a gift card to a loyalty program. And if you lose the card, you can get it back.

"That's still an open channel," he said. "But legislation has been really positive so that you at least get core value out of a gift card."

Since the CARD Act, there has been a major improvement in the loss rate, or the loss of stored value through lost/stolen cards, fees, and expired cards since TowerGroup began tracking gift cards in 2005.

Also referred to as "spillage" in the industry, TowerGroup found that through 2008, expired cards had the highest channel for lost consumer value, accounting for 52 percent of spillage, followed by fees. Fees, such as a $1 service charge for inquiring about your balance, caused an estimated 39 percent in spillage. Lost cards contributed to 9 percent of total lost value.

For consumers who receive cards that they don't want to use, options are available. You can exchange unused gift cards through gift card exchange sites like Plastic Jungle and

Anson Tsai and Timothy Wong founded Cardpool in 2009, which describes itself as the world's largest and fastest growing gift card marketplace. Customers can buy discounted gift cards plus sell and exchange gift cards. Cardpool only sells gift cards that have no fees and no expiration dates. The company says hundreds of thousands of customers have used Cardpool to buy or sell their gift cards.

The company, based in San Francisco, provides free shipping for buyers and sellers and guarantees every transaction.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


National Retail Federation Ups its Forecast for Holiday Sales

Tim Boyle/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The National Retail Federation (NRF) raised its holiday forecast Thursday morning, expecting sales to increase 3.8 percent to compared with last year.

The initial forecast, which was made in October, called for a 2.8 percent gain.

"After strong sales reports in October and November, along with a successful Black Friday weekend, retailers are cautiously optimistic that this season will turn out better than initially expected, bringing added stability to our recovering economy at a time when America needs it most,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said.

The increase was also fueled by a recent NRF survey that found that the average American had only completed 46.5 percent of his or her holiday shopping as of the second week of December -- an indication that consumers will still be heading out to stores.

Yet, Shay warns that "a number of factors, including the debt crisis in Europe and continued political wrangling in Washington, could impact consumer spending this holiday season and into 2012."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


November Retail Sales Fall Short; Rise Just 0.2%

Brand X Pictures/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Shoppers spent more on consumer electronics, furniture and clothing during the first month of the holiday shopping season according to the latest government report, but sales dropped at restaurants, gas stations and grocery stores.

The Commerce Department said Tuesday that retail sales in November rose only 0.2 percent -- less than what many economists had predicted.

Despite the modest gain, last month's increase marked the sixth straight month retail sales have gone up.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


US Stock Futures Up Ahead of November Retail Sales Data

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Wall Street is looking to reverse its fate on Tuesday; stock futures are up ahead of the opening bell.

The day before, the stock market dropped amid lingering worries over Europe's debt crisis.  The Dow Jones Industrial Average tumbled 163 points on Monday, while the Nasdaq fell 35 and the S&P 500 slid 19.

Asian stocks followed in Wall Street's footsteps, closing lower on Tuesday.  South Korea’s Kospi sank 1.88 percent, China’s Shanghai Composite plummeted 1.87 percent, Australia’s S&P/ASX 200 dropped 1.40 percent, Japan's Nikkei index lost 1.17 percent, and Hong Kong’s Hang Seng dipped 0.69 percent.

But encouraging news out of Germany and Spain on Tuesday boosted U.S. stock futures and propelled European stocks to trade higher.  The ZEW indicator of economic sentiment for Germany snapped its losing streak and rose in December, and in Spain, an auction of short-term government paper sold more than expected.

Wall Street will likely also be affected on Tuesday by the latest retail sales report for November, due out at 8:30 a.m. E.T.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Economists Predict Higher Retail Sales for November

Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Early predictions from economists estimate that retail sales likely rose in November.

Bloomberg News reports that 64 economists estimated a 0.6 percent gain in purchases for November, according to their median forecast that comes days before the Commerce Department is due to release its figures on Dec. 13.

The sales increase was likely attributed to the fact that Americans spent November buying new cars and shopping for the holidays, economists said.

The record-setting Black Friday sales could put retail sales in a strong position for the end of the year.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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