WASHINGTON-U.S. retail sales in January grew 0.4 percent over December and were up 5.8 percent over January 2011, reaching $401.4 billion on an adjusted basis, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s monthly retail-sales report.
Looking at individual channels, sales at furniture and home furnishings stores slipped 0.2 percent from December but were up 7.8 percent year-over-year. Sales at general-merchandise stores rose 2 percent month over month and 5.8 percent from January of last year. Sales at department stores (excluding leased departments) increased 1 percent from December and 1.5 percent over January 2011.
Commenting on this morning’s report, the National Retail Federation attributed the January increases to unseasonably warm weather, consumers’ redemptions of gift cards from the holiday season and improvements in the labor market. “As a traditionally slower sales month for the industry, it’s encouraging to see such sustained growth in consumer spending and sentiment,” said Matthew Shay, NRF’s president and CEO.
Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist for NRF, noted that increases in payrolls apparently boosted consumer confidence in January, but cautioned that consumer spending alone won’t be enough to keep the momentum going. “We must see improvements in key economic indicators such as housing and employment,” Kleinhenz said.