NRF: January Retail Sales Show Solid Gains

Following a solid holiday season, retail sales in January were up 3.6% year-over-year, according to figures from the National Retail Federation. The numbers exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants.

The January numbers follow an unexpected revised 0.1% drop in December year-over-year. November— the first half of the holiday season— grew 5.1% unadjusted year-over-year.

“Retail sales recovered in January after the unexpected drop in December, reinforcing a positive start to 2019,” said Jack Kleinhenz, NRF’s chief economist. “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.”  

He noted that December retail figures, while revised downward, may be revised again in the future as the government shutdown caused reporting delays.

NRF’s numbers are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which reported that overall January sales— including auto dealers, gas stations and restaurants— were up 2.3% unadjusted year-over-year.