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Chart of the Day / Education: The Best Consumer Numbers We’ve Seen in Six Years

Education: The Best Consumer Numbers We’ve Seen in Six Years

January 1, 2019

The 2018 holiday season was the best we’ve seen in six years.

Despite fears of a slowing economy, the trade war, and incessant volatility, you wouldn’t know it with how consumers have been spending.

Total retail sales from November 1 to December 4, 2018 were up 5.1% year over year to $850 billion.  Apparel sales were up nearly 8% — showing the best growth since 2010.  Home improvement sales were up 9%.  And home furnishings were up 2.3% for the holiday season.

Granted, sales at department sales did slip 1.3% this year, but much of that can be attributed to store closures.  Plus, according to Mastercard, department stores have been performing much better online.  In fact, department store online sales were up 10.2% this year.

In short, the consumer is “on fire” with little in the way of bad news/

Brick and mortar stores have been crowded.  And online retail growth is the best in years.

“Wall Street is running around like a chicken with its head cut off, while Mr. and Mrs. Main Street are happy with their jobs, enjoying their best wage increases in a decade,” said Craig Johnson, president of Customer Growth Partners, as quoted by The Wall Street Journal.

Online spending soared 19.1% from 18.1% year over year thanks in large part to Amazon.

The online behemoth said it saw record global holiday sales, claiming it shipped a billion products for free in the U.S. alone through its Amazon Prime program.

In fact, according to Amazon’s post-holiday press release:

“Amazon announced a record-breaking holiday season thanks to its customers all around the world, with more items ordered worldwide than ever before.  Amazon customers shopped at record levels from a wide selection of products across every department, discovering top holiday gifts and trending products offered at deep discounts and low prices. Some of the best-selling products this season included, all-new Echo Dot, L.O.L. Surprise! Glam Glitter Series Doll, fashion items from Carhartt, and Bose Quiet Comfort Wireless Headphones, among others.”

Such an upbeat tone from the company does contrary to fears of a U.S. recession, and a potential slowdown in consumer spending.

These numbers simply reinforce the idea that U.S. consumer demand remains healthy and strong, thanks to rising wages, job growth, and increased consumer confidence.

“Consumer spending remains solid and clearly provides evidence that the economy is healthy as we head into 2019,” notes National Retail Federation (NRF) Chief Economist, Jack Kleinhenz, as quoted by Logistics Management.

In short, despite fears of a slowdown, the economy is just fine, thanks in large part to the U.S. consumer.