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NRF Reports Rebound of Retail Sales in the US in January 2019; Up 3.6% Y-o-Y

Mar 14, 2019

The National Retail Federation (NRF) the apex body of the retail trade in the US said recently that retail sales in that country had rebounded in January, increasing 1.3%  seasonally adjusted from December; and 3.6%  unadjusted year-over-year (y-o-y) (these figures   exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants).

“Retail sales recovered in January after the unexpected drop in December, reinforcing a positive start to 2019,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “American consumers regained confidence as concerns over the government shutdown and stock market volatility faded and trade talks moved in a positive direction. Although some hesitancy is still lingering, it is good to see consumer spending showing traction given the concerns on the minds of American families last month. We expect higher wages and low unemployment to continue to promote consumer confidence in the year ahead.” 

Further, NRF stated that as of January, the three-month moving average was 2.7% higher than the same period of the previous year. “The January numbers follow an unexpected revised 0.1 percent drop in December year-over-year,” the organisation said. “November – the first half of the holiday season – grew 5.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year.”

Though  NRF does  not take October into account as part of the holiday season, it noted that  much of the holiday shopping has shifted to an earlier period, and October  sales showed a growth of 5.7% y-o-y.

“Retail sales in December were revised even lower, but these figures remain suspect given the reporting delays caused by the government shutdown,” Kleinhenz added. “The January rebound further calls into question the accuracy and reliability of the December data. The processing of the delayed data is still unclear, and the volatility of the figures reported is difficult to explain at this point.”

Meanwhile  NRF forecasts  that in 2019 retail sales will grow between 3.8%  and 4.4%  to more than US$3.8 trillion. “The forecast will be monitored and subject to revision as more data is released in the coming months,” NRF averred.

NRF’s numbers are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which had recently announced   that overall January sales – including auto dealers, gas stations and restaurants – were up 0.2%  seasonally adjusted from December and up 2.3%  unadjusted year-over-year.

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