January sales better than December's

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Retail sales for January were up 1% following a six-month decline, the US Commerce Department said today.

Sales, which included retail and food services, totaled $344.6 billion, an increase over December's figures, but still are down 9.7% year-over-year.

Sales at gasoline stations rose 2.6% over December. January also saw gas prices rising at the pumps. Sales at nonstore retailers such as catalogs and online retailers rose 2.7%. Electronics and appliance stores also posted a slight gain of 2.6%. Clothing and clothing accessories stores saw a modest 1.6% increase, while motor vehicle and parts dealers' sales rose 1.6%.

The losers included building material, garden equipment and supplies dealers, whose sales were down 3.2%. Furniture and home furnishings stores posted a 1.3% decline. Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores experienced a 0.5% dip in sales.

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