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January's Retail Uptrends Bring Good News For Radio Advertisers.

In a positive signal for future retail ad growth, clothing, grocery, and health/personal care stores, along with online businesses are coming off strong January sales. According to just-released figures from the National Retail Federation's CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor, those ad categories saw unadjusted year-over-year sales increases in January 2024 ranging from 4.06% to 25.47%. Seasonally-adjusted growth from holiday-shopping-heavy December in these categories was also up anywhere from 0.20-0.68%.

Overall, the monitor's reported trends from last to this January show a 2.34% lift for total retail sales excluding automobiles and gasoline, moving up to 3.24% for core retail sales, which also excludes restaurants. The latter measure bests December's year-over-year gain of 2.40%.

December-to-January's total retail sales were off just 0.16% with core retail down just 0.04%, vs. 0.44% and 0.19% Nov.-Dec. lifts, respectively.

The breakdown shows January 2024 sales up year-over-year in six of nine retail categories, as well as in five categories Dec.-Jan. Leading the charge were online and other non-store sales, up a whopping 25.47% from January 2023 while up 0.68% from December 2023, followed by health and personal care stores, up 9.66% and 0.51%. Clothing and accessories store sales gained were 5.9% year-over-year and 0.52% month-over-month, with grocery and beverage stores trending up 4.06% and off 0.20%.

Also showing growth from a year ago are sporting goods, hobby, music and book stores – up 1.79% year-over-year unadjusted, though down 0.65% month-over-month seasonally adjusted – and general merchandise stores, up 1.14% from Jan. 2023 while off 0.64% from December.

Two other categories gained from December while down from a year ago: building and garden supply stores, up 0.48% month-over-month (-1.55% from last January), and electronics and appliance stores, up 1.34% (-4.21% year-over-year).

“January sales continued the strong performance of retail sales in December, which is impressive coming off a record holiday season,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay says. “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.”

The CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor, which launched in November, leverages Affinity Solutions’ anonymized purchase data from more than 140 million credit and debit cards, with nearly nine billion transactions totaling more than $500 billion in annual spending, to measure the monthly and annual change in U.S. retail sales.

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