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Financial News: U.S. Retail Sales Spike 5.3% In January, Much

U.S. Retail Sales Spike 5.3% In January, Much More Than Expected

02/17/2021 - 09:40:00 (RTTNews)

(RTTNews) - Following recent declines in U.S. retail sales, the Commerce Department released a report on Wednesday showing retail sales rebounded by much more than anticipated in the month of January.

The Commerce Department said retail sales spiked by 5.3 percent in January after sliding by a revised 1.0 percent in December.

Economists had expected retail sales to climb by 1.1 percent compared to the 0.7 percent decrease originally reported for the previous month.

Excluding a 3.1 percent jump in sales by motor vehicle and parts retailers, retail sales still soared by 5.9 percent in January after tumbling by a revised 1.8 percent in December.

Economists had expected ex-auto sales to increase by 1.0 percent compared to the 1.4 percent slump originally reported for the previous month.

The report said sales by department stores skyrocketed by 23.5 percent, while sales by electronics and appliance stores, furniture and home furnishings stores and non-store retailers also saw double-digit growth.

Significant sales growth was also seen at a variety of other stores, including gas stations, which saw sales shoot up by 4.0 percent amid the recent spike in gasoline prices.

Closely watched core retail sales, which exclude automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, also surged up by 6.0 percent in January after plunging by 2.4 percent in December.

Michael Pearce, Senior US Economist at Capital Economics, said the spike in retail sales highlights how quickly re-openings and the $600 stimulus checks have translated into stronger spending.

"That means first-quarter GDP growth could be stronger than the already above-consensus 6% annualized we have penciled in," Pearce said.

He added, "That said, with the stimulus checks spent more quickly that we had expected, we expect retail sales to fall back in February."

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