Data released by the U.S. Census Bureau on February 15 reportedly signals that retail sales cooled in January, but households continued to spend, according to National Retail Federation (NRF) Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz.

“Retail sales softened in January compared with the holiday season, but consumers were still engaged,” Kleinhenz suggested. “Extreme weather likely disrupted product demand and consumption patterns. January prices for goods came down, which affects sales figures even if the same number of items are sold, and increased prices for services pulled dollars away from retail purchases. Nonetheless, January’s numbers point to the U.S. economy and labor market continuing to chug along.”

The Census Bureau said overall retail sales in January were down 0.8 percent from December but up 0.6 percent year-over-year (YoY). That compared with increases of 0.4 percent month-over-month (MoM) and 5.3 percent YoY in December.

January’s core retail sales, as defined by the NRF, based on the census data but excluding auto dealers, gas stations and restaurants, were down 0.8 percent MoM from December but up 2.8 percent YoY. Core retail sales were up 3.2 percent unadjusted YoY on a three-month moving average as of January.

NRF said the USCB numbers align with the CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor, powered by Affinity Solutions, which reported on February 12 that January sales nearly matched December sales numbers. The Retail Monitor found core January retail sales were down just 0.04 percent seasonally adjusted from October and up 3.24 percent unadjusted YoY. That compared with increases of 0.19 percent MoM and 2.4 percent YoY in December.


For more SGB Media coverage on January 2024 retail sales, read below.

Report: January Year-Over-Year Retail Sales Trend Accelerates from December Trend