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Feds are springing forward bright Beige report

By Faith Hope Consolo, Chairman, Retail Leasing and Sales Division, Douglas Elliman Real Estate

The Federal Reserve Beige Book, is a report published eight times per year where each Federal Reserve Bank reports on current economic conditions in its District through reports from banks, economists, market experts, and other sources.

The Beige Book summarizes this information by District. An overall summary of the Twelve District reports is prepared by a designated Federal Reserve Bank on a rotating basis.

The recent March 2, 2016 report by the Federal Reserve shows economic conditions, much like spring, have perked up in the U.S. over the last two months showing improvement in consumer spending, non-financial services activity, home sales, loan demand and job growth across the country.

America’s economic health is surprisingly positive. March’s Beige Book report had plenty of good things to say about the domestic economy!

New York is the Second District  and the report is promising.

Broadway theaters have been on the upswing and attendance and revenues have been running ahead of 2015 levels.

Consumer spending has been rising steadily in early 2016, while tourism activity is ready to skyrocket yet once again.

NYC & Company is projecting about 920,000 visitors from China alone this year, an increase of 8.2 percent from the preliminary estimate of about 850,000 in 2015.

China is the fourth-largest source of foreign visitors to the city, behind England, Canada and Brazil. NYC & Company, forecasts 59.7 million visitors this year overshadowing last year’s record of 58.3 million visitors by 2.4 percent and keep the city on pace for a goal of drawing 67 million annual visitors by 2021. Tourism was a bright spot in many Districts.

Retailers reported improvements in January and early February, with consumer spending up slightly from early 2015 levels.

Unseasonably mild weather in January escalated shopper traffic.

The National Retail Federation released its 2016 economic forecast, projecting retail industry sales will grow 3.1 percent, higher than the 10-year average of 2.7 percent. NRF also announced that it expects non-store sales in 2016 to grow between 6% and 9%.

The Conference Board’s January survey shows consumer confidence holding steady.

The labor market has been stronger in early 2016, with increase in wages. Multiple reports show strength in hiring activity; findings were surprisingly positive. Strong employment gains were recorded in healthcare, retail, and restaurants.

Labor market conditions continued to strengthen since the previous reporting period, with the majority of Districts reporting modest growth in the labor market and wages generally increased.

America’s improving job market and more prominent wages helped drive tourism, auto sales and housing demand, reflecting a favorable view in many of the Twelve Districts.

Wage growth varied from flat to strong across the country while consumer prices stayed consistent. The unemployment rate held steady at 4.9%, an eight-year low, as expected.

As we approach the end of the First Quarter, moving forward towards strong Spring activity in all sectors, reinforcing the region’s excellent fundamentals and the positive progression for our economy.

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