Retail sales in January rose more than expected, up 0.3% for the month, after declining 0.4% in December. Economists had expected a drop in sales by 0.3%. Excluding the purchase of autos, retail sales were still up 0.3%, in line with expectations.
Auto sales rose a surprising 0.6% for the month, while gas purchases rose 2.0%. If you exclude both from the calculation, retail sales remain unchanged. Clothing, food and beverage, and health and personal care stores also reported strong sales.
Every other category was in the red. Hardest hit were department stores (-1.1%), building materials (-1.7%), and electronics and appliance stores (-1.0%).
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