United States: Retail sales growth in January disappoints again
February 12, 2015
In January, growth in retail sales decreased 0.8% over the previous month, in nominal terms. The print followed the 0.9% decrease recorded in December and came in below market expectations of a 0.5% decrease. Retail sales had not registered two consecutive monthly contractions for more than two years. January’s result was driven by a steep 9.3% drop in sales receipts at gasoline stations due to low gas prices. Moreover, it appears that consumers are not using their additional discretionary income in other categories, as sales also dropped at sports and hobby stores, clothing retailers, and automobile dealers.
Retail sales excluding cars and gas—a closely watched subcategory of the retail trade index—increased 0.2% in January over the previous month. The result was up from the flat reading recorded in December but below the 0.4% increase expected by the market.
Retail sales rose 3.3% in annual terms in January, which matched December’s result. However, the annual trend increased, with annual average growth in retail sales ticking up from 4.0% in December to 4.1% in January.
Author: Carl Kelly, Economist