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Retail sales continued to shine in January, federation said

Retail sales in January nearly matched December’s busy holiday spending.
Sandra Levy
Senior Editor
Levy

Retail sales showed a strong beginning for the year in January, nearly matching December’s busy holiday spending and rising significantly year over year, according to National Retail Federation's CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor.

“January sales continued the strong performance of retail sales in December, which is impressive coming off a record holiday season,” said Matthew Shay, president and CEO of NRF. “More importantly, year-over-year growth was solid, showing consumers are still optimistic and willing to act on the spending power brought by growing employment and wages. This is a great start to the new year.”

Total retail sales, excluding automobiles and gasoline, were down just .16% seasonally adjusted month over month and up 2.34% unadjusted year over year in January, according to the Retail Monitor. That compared with increases of .44% month over month and 3.07% year over year in December.

[Read more: Holiday season sales boost Amazon’s Q4 results]

The Retail Monitor calculation of core retail sales – excluding restaurants, autos and gas – was down a slim .04% month over month and up 3.24% year over year in January, compared with increases of .19% month over month and 2.4 year over year in December.

This is the fourth month that the Retail Monitor has provided data on monthly retail sales. It uses actual, anonymized credit and debit card purchase data compiled by Affinity Solutions.

January sales were up in six out of nine retail categories on a yearly basis, led by online sales, health and personal care stores and clothing and accessory stores, and up in five categories on a monthly basis.

Here are additional specifics from key sectors:

  • Online and other non-store sales were up .68% month over month (seasonally adjusted) and up 25.47% year over year unadjusted.
  • Health and personal care stores were up .51% month over month (seasonally adjusted) and up 9.7% year over year unadjusted.
  • Clothing and accessories stores were up .52% month over month and up 5.9% year over year unadjusted.
  • Grocery and beverage stores were down .2% month over month but up 4.06% year over year unadjusted.
  • Sporting goods, hobby, music and book stores were down .65% month over month seasonally adjusted but up 1.79% year over year unadjusted.
  • General merchandise stores were down .64% month over month (seasonally adjusted) but up 1.14% year over year unadjusted.

[Read more: NRF: Valentine’s Day spending hits new record]

  • Building and garden supply stores were up .48% month over month but down 1.55% year over year unadjusted.
  • Electronics and appliance stores were up 1.34% month over month (seasonally adjusted) but down 4.21% year over year unadjusted.
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores were down .97% month over month (seasonally adjusted) and down 6.35% year over year unadjusted.

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