Retail

Retail Sales Jump 4.1 Percent In December Buoyed By eCommerce, Auto-Related Sales

Retail sales increased 4.1 percent in December, compared to a year ago, buoyed by eCommerce and auto sales.

According to a report, retail sales during the month of December increased 0.6 percent, with sales picking up the pace from November. Among the retailers that led the charge in terms of sales, it was squarely in the eCommerce camp, with sales at Amazon and eBay seeing strength. The auto-related category was also strong during the month of December.

While eCommerce players were enjoying strong sales during December, the general merchandise store category didn’t fare as well, with declines of 0.5 percent from November to December and 2.8 percent year over year. For all of 2016, retail sales came in up 3.3 percent, topping the 2.3 percent increase in 2015.

The retail sales data released Friday (Jan. 13) shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise given Macy’s, Kohl’s and Amazon have already provided updates on holiday sales. For Macy’s and Kohl’s, the news wasn’t that good. Take Macy’s for starters. The department store operator in early January slashed its earnings outlook and announced it will reduce its workforce by 6,200, or 4 percent. According to a report, Macy’s was prompted to lower its guidance after a slow holiday season. Macy’s now expects profit of $2.95 to $3.10 a share, which is lower than the $3.40 a share it had previously projected.

“We had anticipated sales would be stronger,” Chief Executive Officer Terry Lundgren said in a statement, according to a report in CNBC. “Ongoing weakness in handbags and watches negatively impacted our results.”

Meanwhile, Kohl’s slashed its outlook, saying now it expects 2016 earnings of $2.92 to $2.97 a share, down from the past guidance of $3.12 to $3.32 a share. The company also cited weakness during the holiday selling season.

Amazon, on the flip side, said the 2016 holiday season was the best ever for Amazon, with the Echo Dot, Fire TV Stick, Fire Tablet and Amazon Echo on the top of the bestseller lists. What’s more, sales of the Amazon Echo family of devices were up nine times compared to the holiday season last year.

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