U.S. Census Bureau: Retail sales rebound in January

NRF says gift card redemption, warm weather benefited retailers

WASHINGTON — January retail sales are on solid ground, the U.S. Census Bureau reported Tuesday.

U.S. retail and food services sales for the month, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, totaled $401.4 billion, an increase of 0.4% and 5.8% above the year ago-period. Retail trade sales increased 0.4% for the month and 5.5% above the year-ago period, the government agency said.

Looking across retail categories, adjusted sales at grocery stores increased 1.3% in January $46.8 billion, compared with December 2011. Health and personal care stores were virtually flat at roughly $23.1 billion. Retail sales for drug stores and pharmacies were not recorded; however, sales were virtually flat from November to December ($19.25 billion).

The National Retail Federation said sales built on the momentum of the holiday shopping season and were "propelled by gift card redemptions and warm weather."

“Thanks to a combination of unseasonably warm weather across much of the country and millions of shoppers with gift cards burning holes in their pockets, retailers are still riding the tailwinds of consumers’ spending power,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said. “As a traditionally slower sales month for the industry, it’s encouraging to see such sustained growth in consumer spending and sentiment.”

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