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U.S. Retail Sales Rebounded Sharply In January As Consumers Shrug Off Fears Of Recession.

The consumer roared back last month with a 3% increase in retail spending that was the largest monthly gain in nearly two years, adding to evidence that U.S. economic growth picked up at the start of the year.

The seasonally adjusted jump in U.S. retail sales in January from December, the Commerce Department reported, followed declines in the final two months of 2022 as shoppers spent more on vehicles, furniture, clothing and dining out.

The January sales figures, the largest percentage increase since March 2021, reflect a split spending pattern: Americans spent more modestly on everyday staples like groceries and gas and boosted spending on big-ticket discretionary items.

Retail sales grew in almost every category, including at restaurants, car dealerships, department stores, furniture sellers and appliance outlets.

Consumer spending at restaurants and bars rose 7.2%, the most since March 2021. In contrast, grocery-store sales were up slightly and gasoline station sales were flat. Warm and fair weather, which can boost foot traffic, could have also played a role in demand in January, economists said.

Sales of vehicles and parts, typically big-ticket purchases, rose 5.9% last month after falling 1.8% in December. The number of seasonally adjusted vehicle sales increased in January, the Commerce Department said earlier this month.

According to the National Retail Federation, retail sales in January were up 1.5% from December and increased 4.8% year-over-year. The NRF’s calculation excludes automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants. In December, sales were down 0.5% month-over-month.

The results follow a 5.1% YoY rise in combined November- December holiday sales to $934.7 billion. Total 2022 retail sales as calculated by NRF grew 7% to $4.9 trillion.

Sales in January rose month-over-month in every category, led by furniture and home furnishings stores, electronics and appliance stores, and general merchandise stores.

Specific sectors for January month-over-month sales:

  • Sporting goods stores (+0.2%)

  • Clothing and clothing accessory (+2.5%)

  • Online and other non-store (+1.3%.)

  • Grocery and beverage (+0.1%)

  • Health and personal care (+1.9%)

  • Furniture and home furnishings (+4.4%)

  • General merchandise (+3.2%)

  • Building materials and garden supply (+0.3%)

  • Electronics and appliance (+3.5%).

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