Retail Sales a touch above expectations

Jan Retail Sales rose .5% m/o/m headline, .6% ex auto’s and .6% ex auto’s and gasoline. All are a touch above estimates in what is a clearance month after the holidays. Looking at the y/o/y data to properly gauge the improvement from last year’s more difficult economy, headline sales rose 3.2% and were up 3.4% ex auto’s. BUT, ex auto’s and gasoline, sales were up just .9%. In this core #, y/o/y sales were seen in food/beverages, health/personal care, sporting goods, general merchandise (but includes dept stores which are down), restaurant/bars and online retailers. Sales were down y/o/y in furniture, electronics, building materials and clothing. Bottom line, while better than expected, Jan is both a clearance month and gift card redemption month that influences consumer behavior and today’s news doesn’t move the needle enough to add anything new to the economic outlook.

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