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Retail Sales in January Show 5.3 Percent Growth on Heels of Stimulus Payouts

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Retail and food service sales in January increased by 5.3 percent and 7.4 percent from January 2020, the U.S. Commerce Department reported Wednesday. The monthly increase is the first rise for several months, following three months of declining retail sales numbers. The growth exceeded the 1.2 percent gain that economists surveyed by Dow Jones forecasted. The Wall Street Journal reported that January’s advanced figure marks the biggest monthly gain since June 2020.

The increase in sales follows the federal government’s dispersal of stimulus checks of about $600 per recipient. Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist of the National Retail Federation, said that the surge in sales is a direct result of relief funds and better trends of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“There is plenty of purchasing power available for most consumers,” said Kleinhenz. “Confidence is building thanks to the availability of COVID-19 vaccines, and states and local governments are beginning to remove restrictions on economic activity. Going forward, I expect consumer spending to build on this momentum.”

Month to month, there was an increase in sales for motor vehicles and parts by 3.1 percent, gas stations by 4 percent, food and beverage stores by 2.4 percent, furniture stores by 12 percent and health and personal care stores by 1.3 percent. Lastly, sales at sporting goods, hobby, musical instrument and bookstores increased by 8 percent.

The retail services that saw the biggest increase are department stores with 23.5 percent increase, as well as electronics and appliance stores with an increase of 14.7 percent. Furniture and home furniture stores saw an increase of 12 percent. Lastly, non-store retailers saw an 11 percent increase.

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