Pent-up demand for large-ticket items like automobiles and appliances is driving a mini-spending spree by U.S. and European consumers. Retail sales were up at an annualized pace more than 5 percent in September, October and November.
Economists tell The Associated Press consumer confidence is coming from low interest rates, which enables the purchase of big-ticket items. Inflation remains low, too.
Businesses are picking up on the trend, increasing their purchase of machinery, computers and other equipment. Employment and housing starts also are showing signs of life after several years of dormancy.
Sales of consumer goods are booming in many countries, too. Retail sales spiked in Europe about 1.4 percent, the biggest increase in 12 years.
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