Retail sales data released by the Census Bureau this morning confirm what other recent surveys have said: consumers are back in the game. Total retail and food sales in December rose 7.9 percent from a year ago while core sales, which exclude autos and gasoline, increased by 6.2 percent. Growth in December was led by non-store retailers (Internet and catalogue), building supply stores (thanks to the sale of storm-related merchandise), drug stores and gas stations (due to rising prices). Sales were weak at department, grocery, electronics and apparel stores. The International Council of Shopping Centers reported that sales at shopping centers grew by 5.6 percent in November and December over the prior year, the best performance since 2005. Consumers will spend at a modest pace in 2011 as they respond to pent-up demand and a gradually improving labor market. Retailers will reposition, closing underperforming outlets while selectively expanding, taking advantage of good deals offered by landlords. Analysts have estimated that retailers will add anywhere from 20,000 to 35,000 new stores in 2011 with store closures in the range of 5,000 to 8,000, which will begin to fill some of the excess space.
Have a great weekend.....Compliments of Bob Bach