February 13, 2014

Retail sales decrease in January

Severe weather contributed to weaker sales in the automotive and housing-related sectors in January and led to a 0.4 percent decrease in total retail sales for the month, according to NAFCU Senior Economist Curt Long.

Long, analyzing data published by the Census Bureau in a NAFCU Macro Data Flash report, said December and November retail sales data was also revised downward, adding to the disappointing January report. December's retail sales numbers were revised to a decrease of 0.1 percent.

However, Long said, rising fuel prices increased sales at gasoline stations in January. "Total retail sales growth has varied throughout the year as different segments led sales each month," he said. "Retail sales are expected to build some momentum next year as the fiscal drag recedes and the economy strengthens."

January's retail sales data also showed:

  • Core retail sales – excluding light vehicles and gasoline – decreased by 0.2 percent for the month, while retail sales of auto and gas decreased 0.9 percent for the month.
  • Year-over-year growth in retail sales was 2.6 percent in January. The December number was revised to 3.6 percent growth.
  • Core retail sales increased by 2.4 percent from a year ago in January, while auto and gas increased by 3 percent from a year ago.