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U.S. retail sales show unexpected rebound in January


February 12, 2009
By National Retail Federation

Feb. 12, 2009 – Post-holiday bargains may have been too good for shoppers to pass up as
January retail sales increased slightly over the previous month in the
U.S.

Post-holiday bargains may have been too good for shoppers to pass up as
January retail sales increased slightly over the previous month in the
U.S. According to the National Retail Federation, retail industry sales
for January (which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants)
increased 0.5 percent seasonally adjusted from last month and decreased
2.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
 
January retail sales released today by the U.S. Commerce Department
show total retail sales (which include non-general merchandise
categories such as autos, gasoline stations and restaurants) increased
1.0 percent seasonally adjusted from December but decreased 9.0 percent
unadjusted year-over-year.

“While 2009 got off to a surprising start, it’s going to be difficult
for retailers to maintain this momentum,” said NRF Chief Economist
Rosalind Wells.  “We expect the first half of the year to present
challenges while giving way to sustained growth in the fourth
quarter.” 
 
While seasonal increases were encouraging for retailers,
budget-conscious consumers still spent much less this year compared to
last January. Electronic and appliance stores sales increased 2.6
percent seasonally adjusted from last month but decreased 7.4 percent
unadjusted year-over-year. Sales at clothing and clothing accessories
stores increased 1.6 percent seasonally adjusted from December and
decreased 8.0 percent unadjusted over last January.
 
As shoppers continued to save more and spend less, they continue to
spend on the necessities. General merchandise stores sales increased
1.1 percent seasonally adjusted over last month and 3.5 percent
unadjusted over last year. Additionally, health and personal care
stores sales were flat seasonally adjusted month-to-month and increased
3.5 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

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