2/16/2012 Economic Trends
Propelled by holiday gift card redemptions and warm winter weather, U.S. retail sales posted across-the-board growth in January, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF). Excluding sales involving automobiles, gas stations and restaurants, overall sales increased 0.9 percent when seasonally adjusted from December and 4 percent on an unadjusted year-over-year basis.
In addition, January retail sales data released today by the U.S. Department of Commerce shows total sales (including non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations and restaurants) increased 5.6 percent unadjusted on a year-over-year basis and 0.4 percent seasonally adjusted from December.
“As a traditionally slower sales month for the industry, it’s encouraging to see such sustained growth in consumer spending and sentiment [in January],” said NRF President and Chief Executive Officer Matthew Shay in a prepared statement.
By category, general merchandise stores’ sales increased 2 percent seasonally-adjusted from December and 4.7 percent unadjusted year over year; electronics and appliance stores’ sales increased 0.5 percent seasonally adjusted from December but decreased 1.1 percent unadjusted year over year; and building material, garden equipment and supplies dealers’ sales increased 0.2 percent seasonally adjusted from December and surged 10.5 percent unadjusted year over year. Furniture and home furnishing stores’ sales decreased 0.2 seasonally adjusted from December, but climbed 7.9 percent unadjusted year over year.
“A slightly improving labor market with gains in payrolls has lifted consumer confidence in January and corresponds with increasing retail sales,” said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. “However, consumer spending alone will not be enough to sustain economic growth or provide a strong foundation for consistent retail sales and growth. We must see improvements in key economic indicators, such as housing and employment.”
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