January retail sales up 0.5% over December: NRF

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January retail sales improved slightly over the previous month, but declined year-over-year, according to the National Retail Federation. Excluding the sales of auto dealerships, gas stations and restaurants, retail sales increased 0.5% from December 2009, yet fell 0.2% year-over-year.

Statistics released by the US Department of Commerce, which include automobiles, gas stations and restaurants, increased 0.5% seasonally adjusted over December, and 3.2% unadjusted year-over-year.

At electronics and appliance stores, sales increased 1.2% during January when compared to December. However, they decreased 7.6% unadjusted year-over-year. Clothing and accessory stores saw sales increase 0.3% month-to-month and decrease 1.7% year-over-year.

Sporting goods, hobby and book and music stores saw increases in both categories, 1% from last December and 5.5% year-over-year. Health and personal care stores also saw increases of 0.1% month-to-month and 2.3% year-over-year.

Furniture and home furnishing stores saw sales fall 1.4% from December and 6.4% year-over-year.

Rosalind Wells, chief economist at the NRF, said in a statement that the economy is showing “subtle signs of improvement” and that the group is “encouraged” by the results.

Last month, the NRF predicted that retail sales will increase 2.5% this year compared to 2009. Last year, total retail sales declined 2.5% from the prior year. Multichannel retailers told DMNews last month that despite the upbeat report, they were approaching this year with guarded optimism.

A NRF representative could not be immediately reached for comment.

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