United States: Retail sales, except car sales, increased in January
February 15, 2017
Retail sales started the year on a positive note, suggesting that private consumption continued to bolster economic growth in Q1. Nominal retail sales increased 0.4% from the previous month in January, which came in below the upwardly revised 1.0% expansion in December (previously reported: +0.6% month-on-month). The result overshot the 0.1% increase the markets had expected.
The report from the Department of Commerce showed that January’s result reflected gains across the board, despite a large loss in sales of motor vehicles, which registered their sharpest drop in 10 months. The largest increases were reported for sporting goods (+1.8% mom), electronics (+1.6% mom), restaurants and bars (+1.4% mom), and department stores (+1.2% mom). Higher gasoline prices boosted gasoline station sales by 2.3%, and may have bled through to sales in some other store categories. Meanwhile, core retail sales—excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services—increased 0.7%, after a 0.1% gain in December.
On a year-on-year basis, growth in retail sales picked from December’s 4.4% to 5.6% in January. Online retailers posted a substantial 12.0% increase in sales in January, taking more market share away from traditional department stores, whose sales declined 3.2%.
Author: Ricardo Aceves, Senior Economist