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Retail Enjoying Impressive Season

US retail sales have increased so far this holiday season, as an improving job market has spurred consumer confidence, according to surveys by government and private-sector organizations.

Sales across all retail categories grew 6.3% year on year in November, the US Census Bureau reported Thursday. Sales in retail and food services rose 5.8% to $492.7 billion for the month, with the federal agency also revising its October result upward.

“This has been an impressive start to the holiday season, perhaps the best in the last few years,” said Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist at the National Retail Federation (NRF). “The combination of job and wage gains, modest inflation and a healthy balance sheet, along with elevated consumer confidence, has led to solid holiday spending by American households.”

The NRF maintained its forecast of a 3.6% to 4% sales increase for the November-to-December holiday season, based on how trading went during November, it said Thursday.

Similarly, Mastercard SpendingPulse reported a 3.6% rise in US retail holiday sales for November 1 to December 9, the data provider noted Friday. E-commerce sales leapt 16%, largely due to the increased popularity of shopping during Cyber Week, it said. Promotions aimed at early-bird holiday shoppers paid off, especially in electronics, home improvement and jewelry, the company explained.

“It’s easy to see that 2017 will likely be a good year for retailers,” said Sarah Quinlan, Mastercard’s senior vice president of market insights. “Unemployment is at 4.1%, wages are rising, consumers are confident. It is all playing out in the shopping picture this holiday season, as retailers and gift recipients would want it to.”

The government has not provided separate data for jewelry sales in November. Sales at specialist jewelers increased 5.8% to $24.89 billion in the first 10 months of the year, the latest government data showed.

Source: Rapaport