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NRF: January retail sales are ‘great’ start to new year

shoppers walking
Core retail sales rose 3.24% year over year in January.

Consumers kept shopping in January.

Retail sales in January nearly matched December’s busy holiday spending and rose significantly year-over-year, according to the CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor, powered by Affinity Solutions, released by the NRF.

Core retail sales — excluding restaurants, autos and gas —  were down a “slim” 0.04% month-over-month and up 3.24% year-over-year in January, according to the Retail Monitor calculation. That compared with increases of 0.19% month-over-month and 2.4 year-over-year in December.

Total retail sales, excluding automobiles and gasoline but including restaurants, were down just 0.16% month-over-month and up 2.34% unadjusted year over year in January. That compared with increases of 0.44% month-over-month and 3.07% year-over-year in December.

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

January sales were up in five retail categories on a monthly basis, led by online, health and personal care stores, and clothing and accessory stores. Sales were up in six out of nine categories on a yearly basis.

Specifics from key sectors are below:

•Online and other non-store sales were up 0.68% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 25.47% year-over-year unadjusted.

•Health and personal care stores were up 0.51% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 9.7% year-over-year unadjusted.

•Clothing and accessories stores were up 0.52% month-over-month and up 5.9% year-over-year unadjusted.

•Grocery and beverage stores were down 0.2% month-over-month but up 4.06% year-over-year unadjusted.

•Sporting goods, hobby, music and book stores were down 0.65% month-over-month seasonally adjusted but up 1.79% year-over-year unadjusted.

•General merchandise stores were down 0.64% month-over-month seasonally adjusted but up 1.14% year-over-year unadjusted.

•Building and garden supply stores were up 0.48% month-over-month but down 1.55% year-over-year unadjusted.

•Electronics and appliance stores were up 1.34% month-over-month seasonally adjusted but down 4.21% year-over-year unadjusted.

•Furniture and home furnishings stores were down 0.97% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and down 6.35% year-over-year unadjusted.

This is the fourth month that the Retail Monitor, which was launched in November, has provided data on monthly retail sales. Unlike survey-based numbers collected by the Census Bureau, the Retail Monitor uses actual, anonymized credit and debit card purchase data compiled by Affinity Solutions and does not need to be revised monthly or annually.

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