January Retail Sales Increased
According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), retail industry sales for January (which exclude automobiles, gas stations and restaurants) increased 7.6 percent over last year and rose 2 percent seasonally adjusted over December. This is in part due to consumers returning to stores with gift cards to take advantage of post-holiday clearance sales.
While there was strong year-over-year growth throughout most retail categories in January, the impressive showing came from building material and garden equipment and supply dealers (home improvement stores): this category increased 17.6 percent year-over-year.
“The spectacular growth we saw in January was an unexpected surprise for the industry,” said Rosalind Wells, NRF chief economist. “While our 2006 outlook for the retail industry remains cautious, consumers responded well to the popularity of gift cards, mild winter weather and aggressive clearance sales. We expect to see a continuation of the heavily promotional environment.”
January retail sales released by the U.S. Commerce Department show that total retail sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations and restaurants) rose 2.3 percent seasonally adjusted from December and increased 8.9 percent unadjusted year-over-year.