Retail Sales FELL by 0.4% in January, compared with the market consensus for no change. The December estimate was revised from 0.2% to -0.1%. Retail sales are now 2.6% ABOVE their year ago level; just a year ago, the year-over-year growth rate was a more robust 5.0%. Spending at motor vehicle dealers fell by 2.1%.
Core Retail Sales were UNCHANGED, compared with the market consensus for an increase 0.1%. The December estimate was revised from 0.7% to 0.3%. Core retail sales are now 2.2% ABOVE their year ago level; just a year ago, the year-over-year growth rate was a more robust 4.3%.
In January, gains at gasoline stations, primarily due to high gasoline prices (+1.1%), building materials (+1.4%), grocery stores (+0.2%), and electronic and appliance stores (+0.4%) were offset by declines in nonstore retailers (-0.6%), clothing stores (-0.9%), health and personal care (-0.6%), sporting goods, hobbies, etc. (-1.4%), furniture & home furnishing (-0.6%), general merchandise stores (-0.1%), and miscellaneous retailers (-0.3%).
Core Retail Sales ex-Gasoline FELL by 0.2% and are now 2.4% ABOVE their year ago level; just a year ago, the year-over-year growth rate was a moderate 4.9%.
Bottom Line: Total retail spending fell in January. Core retail sales were unchanged and gains in building materials were offset by declines in nonstore retailers and clothing stores. While gasoline is a volatile component, both overall and core retail sales have been decelerating on a year-over-year basis. Core Sales ex-gasoline stations and ex-building materials during January are modestly below their Q4 averages, suggesting that real consumer spending will be soft in Q1 GDP.