In nominal terms, it was a pretty good year for retail sales, which hit a new all time high at $4.69T. It was the 8th largest increase in 18 years since 1993--not bad for a year in which the S&P 500 was flat. There is quite a difference between nominal and real retail sales though. Even though Americans are spending more dollars, those dollars are buying them fewer goods. Real retail sales have still, 4 years later, not reached pre-recession highs.
|*Millions of Dollars; Inflation adjustment to December 2011 is estimated|