Retail sales increase for seventh straight month

Compared with January 2010, sales up 7.8%

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Census Bureau on Tuesday reported that retail sales continue on a positive trend, edging up 0.3% for the month of January.

The increase to $381.6 billion marked the seventh consecutive month of gains for retail sales. Total sales for the month were above the year-ago period by 7.8%.

The report also noted that grocery stores experienced a 1.4% increase to nearly $45 million for the month, while health and personal care stores sales rose 0.5% to about $22.3 million.

Although the Census Bureau does not disclose advanced estimates for pharmacies and drug stores, the agency last reported that sales rose to $21 million in December 2010, up from $18.8 million in November 2010.

Commenting on the retail sales results was the National Retail Federation's president and CEO, Matthew Shay. NRF is releasing its economic forecast for 2011 on Thursday.

“In spite of the economic uncertainties that still exist, consumers are clearly demonstrating their desire to spend on discretionary items once again,” Shay said. “The industry is certainly benefitting from the renewed confidence we’re seeing in shoppers, although sustained growth in 2011 will largely rely on improvement in key economic indicators like employment and housing.”

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