Some concerns were raised about the U.S. consumer after initial Black Friday shopping reports showed a substantial decline from last year. However, in a sign of consumer strength, December holiday purchases turned out to be robust. For the first time, overall holiday shopping is estimated to top $600 billion, with 4.1% total growth expected from 2013 levels. After ten years of Black Friday dominance, the last Saturday before Christmas (Super Saturday), took the top shopping day spot. Super Saturday sales were over 10% higher than Black Friday numbers.
Lower gas prices, normalizing unemployment rates, continuing home price recovery (a $4.5 trillion increase in values since 2011) and home equity lending hitting a six year high are all helping the stability and ability of U.S. consumers to spend. Auto sales are predicted to be a benefactor of this uptick in consumer spending, with 2015 auto sales predicted to hit 17 million, erasing the large dip in auto sales felt since 2008. 2014 sales should come in around 16.5 million, a nearly 6% increase from 2013. All told, despite little wage growth for consumers, 2014 is finishing with solid spending numbers.