Retail sales, for the month of January, saw annual gains, according to data issued today by the United States Department of Commerce and the National Retail Federation (NRF).
Commerce reported that January retails sales, at $504.4 billion, were up 0.2% compared to December and up 2.3% annually. And it added that total retail sales from November 2018 through January 2019 rose 2.6% compared to the same period a year ago, with the November to December difference revised from -1.2% to -1.6%.
Retail trade sales saw a 0.2% annual increase from December to January and a 1.9% annual gain, and non-store retailers, which is largely comprised of e-commerce activity, was up 7.3% annually.
The NRF reported that January retail sales saw a 1.3% increase compared to December on a seasonally-adjusted basis, and a 3.6% annual increase on an unadjusted basis. These figures exclude sales from automobile dealers, gasoline stations, and restaurants.
Through January, the three-month moving average rose 2.7% compared to the same period a year ago, according to the NRF. The organization’s January retail sales numbers came on the heels of an unexpected revised 0.1% annual decrease in December, and November, which was the first half of the holiday shopping season, was up 5.1% annually on an unadjusted basis.
“Retail sales recovered in January after the unexpected drop in December, reinforcing a positive start to 2019,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said in a statement. “American consumers regained confidence as concerns over the government shutdown and stock market volatility faded and trade talks moved in a positive direction. Although some hesitancy is still lingering, it is good to see consumer spending showing traction given the concerns on the minds of American families last month. We expect higher wages and low unemployment to continue to promote consumer confidence in the year ahead.”
The NRF executive added that retail sales in December were revised were revised even lower, calling those figures “suspect,” given the reporting delays caused by the government shutdown. What’s more, he said that the January rebound further calls into question the accuracy and reliability of the December data.
“The processing of the delayed data is still unclear, and the volatility of the figures reported is difficult to explain at this point,” he said.
In February, the NRF said it expected 2019 retail sales to come in
between 3.8%-to-4.4% to $3.82 trillion, to be exact. That forecast falls short of the NRF’s call for a minimum increase of 4.5% from 2017 to 2018. And the NRF’s 2018 estimate originally matched the 2019 estimate of 3.8%-to-4.4% growth, too. Online store sales alone, should they rise at the forecasted rate of 10%-to-12%, would come in between $751.1 billion and $764.8 billion.
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Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
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