January retail sales still strong after holidays

Conley News Service

Feb. 15, 2018

WAUKESHA — An improving economy kept January retail sales nearly as good as the holiday season’s strong showing — dropping only 0.26 percent seasonally adjusted from December — and fueled a healthy 5.4 percent increase year-over-year, the National Retail Federation said Wednesday.

The numbers exclude automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants.

“These numbers reinforce a positive start to 2018 that reflects ongoing consumer optimism brought about by solid economic fundamentals,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said in a news release.

“Some observers are spinning this as a disappointing month but you’ve got to keep in mind that we’re coming off one of the strongest holiday seasons in years,” Kleinhenz added. “It’s also difficult to draw conclusions from month-to-month changes because of the huge seasonal-adjustment factors.”

The January numbers follow 5.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year growth in holiday sales during November and December, which was revised down slightly today from the 5.5 percent initially reported. December was down 0.1 percent from November seasonally adjusted but up 3.8 percent year-over-year. The three-month year-over-year moving average is at 5.2 percent.

NRF’s numbers are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which reported Wednesday that overall January sales — including automobiles, gasoline and restaurants — were down 0.3 percent seasonally adjusted from December but up 5 percent year-over-year.