Weekly economic review & outlook
Stimulus fuels a spending surge
February 22, 2021
You Need to Know
Week in review
Retail sales jump for January
A stimulus-induced surge in spending during January is a boost for the economy at the start of 2021 and should set the stage for further strong GDP growth.
Existing home sales begin the year a bit higher
Sales activity remained strong into January, although rising mortgage rates are a cautionary note. Tight supply conditions continue to hold sales down and push up prices rapidly.
New home sales expected to rise modestly
Demand factors for housing remain favorable and the NAHB housing market index suggests a positive sales environment for January, leading to a modest increase in new home sales.
Consumer spending set to explode based on retail sales
As seen in the jump in retail sales, new federal stimulus and solid gains in weekly wages should fuel a large increase in personal consumption expenditures for January.
After falling for each month in the fourth quarter, retail sales spiked by 5.3 percent for January as consumers put their stimulus checks, extended unemployment benefits, and higher weekly earnings to work. Gains were strong across nearly every category, led by surges in spending at furniture and non-store retailers (mainly online shopping). As a result of this jump, the 12-month increase in retail sales climbed to 7.4 percent — reversing the slump seen over previous months.