US retail enjoys welcome shot in the arm from Christmas 2012

Ben Southwood
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THE US enjoyed a healthy climb in retail sales during the all-important December period, official data revealed yesterday.

Retail and food services sales in December were $415.7bn (£258.4bn), the Commerce Department said, up 4.7 per cent on the year, and up 0.5 per cent on the month – even correcting for seasonal variations.

The entire Christmas lead-up period saw shoppers out in droves, the data showed, with retailers benefiting from a 4.2 per cent improvement in sales across the whole October to December period, again compared to the same months in 2011.

And this upbeat data came in line with two further sets of official statistics, buoying hopes that the world’s biggest economy is finally laying down the foundations of a more solid recovery.

Manufacturers’ sales were 4.3 per cent higher last November than they were during the same month in 2011, the US Census Bureau revealed, hitting $1.27 trillion. Inventories also grew, rising to $1.62 trillion after annual growth at some 5.5 per cent.

And consumers could rest easy as price rises did not appear to be on their way through the pipeline – the producer price index for finished goods fell 0.2 per cent during December, according to Labor Department statistics.