Financial Times: US retail sales surged last year at the strongest pace since 1999, as consumers shook off their fears of recession and started spending again amid tepid inflation … Commerce department figures on Friday showed that total sales in 2010 were up 6.8 per cent from 2009, marking the sharpest such increase in more than a decade.
…Retail sales are a big part of consumer spending, which accounts for the bulk of economic output in the US. Last year’s rise offers hope that consumers will be able to help fuel the economic recovery, in spite of stubbornly high unemployment.
“Clear and sustained evidence of renewed life in household spending since July indicates that the market pessimism this summer had very little lasting impact on consumer activity,” said Michael Woolfolk, strategist at BNY Mellon Global Markets. “Not only did US consumers hit the holiday shopping season in full stride this year, but the recent tax stimulus plan ensures that the momentum will carry over into 2011.”
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Bloomberg: Sales at U.S. retailers rose in December for a sixth consecutive month, capping the biggest one-year gain in more than a decade … sales advanced 6.7 percent in 2010, the most since an 8.2 percent jump in 1999.
Analysts this month boosted 2011 forecasts for household spending, which accounts for 70 percent of the economy, as tax cuts and an improving job market put more money in Americans’ pockets. Ford Motor Co. and Dollar General Corp. are among companies planning to increase payrolls this year, pointing to gains in employment that may accelerate the recovery.
Consumers are “feeling that the worst is definitely behind them,” said David Semmens, a U.S. economist at Standard Chartered Bank in New York …. “The first quarter should definitely receive a boost in consumer spending from the fiscal stimulus and the improvement in hiring.”
….Ford said Jan. 10 it plans to hire more than 7,000 workers in the next two years … the Dearborn, Michigan-based company will hire 4,000 factory workers and 750 engineers this year and add 2,500 hourly workers next year… Other companies are boosting their payrolls. Dollar General, the biggest of the U.S. dollar discount stores, said Jan. 3 it plans to add 6,000 jobs as it opens 625 more stores in fiscal 2011.
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