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January CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor Numbers Show a ‘Great Start to the New Year’

Retail sales showed a strong beginning for the year in January, nearly matching December’s busy holiday spending and rising significantly year over year, according to the CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor, powered by Affinity Solutions. Click here to access January’s retail data.

“January sales continued the strong performance of retail sales in December, which is impressive coming off a record holiday season,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “More importantly, year-over-year growth was solid, showing consumers are still optimistic and willing to act on the spending power brought by growing employment and wages. This is a great start to the new year.”

Total retail sales, excluding automobiles and gasoline, were down just 0.16% seasonally adjusted month over month and up 2.34% unadjusted year over year in January, according to the Retail Monitor. That compared with increases of 0.44% month over month and 3.07% year over year in December.

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The Retail Monitor calculation of core retail sales—excluding restaurants in addition to autos and gas—was down a slim 0.04% month over month and up 3.24% year over year in January. That compared with increases of 0.19% month over month and 2.4 year over year in December.

This is the fourth month that the Retail Monitor, which was launched in November, has provided data on monthly retail sales. Unlike survey-based numbers collected by the Census Bureau, the Retail Monitor uses actual, anonymized credit and debit card purchase data compiled by Affinity Solutions and does not need to be revised monthly or annually.

January sales were up in six out of nine retail categories on a yearly basis, led by online sales, health and personal care stores, and clothing and accessory stores, and up in five categories on a monthly basis. Specifics from key sectors include:

  • Online and other non-store sales were up 0.68% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 25.47% year over year unadjusted.
  • Health and personal care stores were up 0.51% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 9.7% year over year unadjusted.
  • Clothing and accessories stores were up 0.52% month over month and up 5.9% year over year unadjusted.
  • Grocery and beverage stores were down 0.2% month over month but up 4.06% year over year unadjusted.
  • Sporting goods, hobby, music and book stores were down 0.65% month over month seasonally adjusted but up 1.79% year over year unadjusted.
  • General merchandise stores were down 0.64% month over month seasonally adjusted but up 1.14% year over year unadjusted.
  • Building and garden supply stores were up 0.48% month over month but down 1.55% year over year unadjusted.
  • Electronics and appliance stores were up 1.34% month over month seasonally adjusted but down 4.21% year over year unadjusted.
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores were down 0.97% month over month seasonally adjusted and down 6.35% year over year unadjusted.

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