United States retail sales for January edge past forecasts

Motor vehicle sales registered an increase of 0.9 percent on year. Sales of computer and telecommunications equipment fell 6.8 per cent, while department store sales fell 2.2 per cent during the same period.

Retail sales in the US rose more than expected in January, bolstering optimism about consumer spending being able to push economic growth at the beginning of 2017, official data showed on Wednesday.

Additionally, core retail sales - which do not include auto sales - are expected to grow by 0.4% in the month of January from December.

Retail sales registered a 0.4% gain, well above the 0.1% jump for the month expected by economists. Economists had predicted a gain of 0.1 percent, but sales overall reached a 0.4 percent increase.

In comparison to a year ago, retail sales were higher by 5.6%.

Department stores, a sub-category of general merchandise stores, continued to be the biggest loser, posting the greatest sales decrease of 3.2% from January 2016. Retail segments with increased spending for the month included gasoline stations (up 2.3 percent), sporting goods and hobby stores (up 1.8 percent), electronics and appliance stores (up 1.6 percent), food services and drinking places (up 1.4 percent), clothing and clothing accessory stores (up 1.0 percent) and general merchandise stores (up 0.9 percent), among others. But online transactions remained flat, after soaring 1.9 percent in December. Employers added 227,000 workers in January, while the unemployment rate ticked up slightly to 4.8 percent because more people started looking for jobs and were counted as unemployed.

But they also indicate that improving consumer sentiment after President Donald Trump's presidential election, especially optimism among Republicans, has yet to significantly boost retail sales.

  • Todd Kelly