U.S. Retail Up in January

CBJ — U.S. retail sales unexpectedly rose in January thanks mainly to an uptick in the purchase of building materials.

Figures released by the U.S. Department of Commerce indicate that retail sales rose 0.2% in the first month of the year.

However, data for December was revised downward to show retail sales dropping 1.6%, as opposed to the originally reported 1.2%. Of most concern is that December’s results marked the biggest drop since September 2009 when much of the world’s economy was emerging from a global recession.

In January, online and mail-order retail sales increased 2.6%, marking the biggest gain since December 2017. Sales at auto dealerships tumbled 2.4%. Sales at building material stores increased 3.3$ — the most since September 2017. Service station sales fell 2%, reflecting the lower prices at the gas pumps. There were also declines in sales at clothing and furniture stores. Restaurants and bars posted a 0.7% upswing.