After strong holiday sales results from J.C. Penney, there is increased optimism that the 2014 holiday retail season was one to celebrate. Bobbi Rebell reports.
Who knew? J.C. Penney out with surprisingly strong holiday sales numbers - up 3.7 percent in November and December - the first major retailer to report results for the Christmas season - which is expected to be the best holiday season since 2011 for the sector. Penney's Shares surged 20 percent on Wednesday ... reversing an 18 percent drop that started at the end of November - when investors had doubts as the holiday season began. Economists say the improving economy- with more Americans finding work- as well as lower energy prices - are providing a boost to spending. Reuters' Nathan Layne: SOUNDBITE: NATHAN LAYNE, REUTERS CORRESPONDENT (ENGLISH) SAYING: "I think there is a broad positive impact here. You are going to see Wal-Mart benefitting. You are going to see Target benefitting. You are going to see J.C. Penney came out with strong numbers yesterday benefitting. Macy's. Kind of across the board." The National Retail Federation, the industry's main trade body, has forecast that retail sales will increase 4.1 percent during November and December ... that's up from 3.1 percent in 2013. That upward trend can help the already improving broader economy. Rutgers economics professor Bill Rodgers: SOUNDBITE: WILLIAM RODGERS, PROFESSOR, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY (ENGLISH) SAYING: "The improvement that we have seen in retail sales is a component of GDP will help to elevate that number for the 4th quarter and so we will end with the 4th quarter in 2014 just as we did with the jobs number on a strong footing. " In fact just Wednesday, the ADP private payrolls report came in stronger than expected for December, and November was revised higher - which could signal a strong monthly jobs report when data is released on Friday.