A strong December retail sales reading indicates that the economy is moving forward at a nice pace, despite arrant jobs numbers released last Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to the Census Bureau, retail and food services sales rose to $431.9 billion in December, up 0.2 percent from November 2013 and 4.1 percent from the same period in 2012. Overall, fourth quarter sales were up 1 percent from the prior year quarter and full year sales were up 4.2 percent. Although November retail sales were revised down from a 0.7 percent gain to a 0.4 percent gain, the December results surpassed expectations for a 0.1 percent gain. The boost was driven by a 2 percent gain in food and beverage store sales compared to November, as well as 1.8 percent growth in clothing and accessory store sales, 1.6 percent gains in gasoline station sales, and 1.4 percent in non-store retailers. The gains were partially offset by a 2.5 percent decline in electronic and appliance store sales, along with a 1.8 percent decline in auto and auto parts sales, Forbes reports.
U.S. small businesses hiring also increased in December according to The National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). To read more, click here.