Retail Sales Fall More Than Expected in January

The Census Bureau's Advance Retail Sales Report for January revealed a 0.8% drop in headline sales compared to December, the largest monthly pull back in consumer spending since March. The latest decline was much larger than the anticipated 0.2% monthly decline.

For an inflation-adjusted perspective on retail sales, take a look at our Real Retail Sales commentary.

Retail Sales Month Over Month

Here is the introduction from today's report:

Advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for January 2024, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $700.3 billion, down 0.8 percent (±0.5 percent) from the previous month, and up 0.6 percent (±0.7 percent)* above January 2023. Total sales for the November 2023 through January 2024 period were up 3.1 percent (±0.5 percent) from the same period a year ago. The November 2023 to December 2023 percent change was revised from up 0.6 percent (±0.5 percent) to up 0.4 percent (±0.3 percent).

Retail trade sales were down 1.1 percent (±0.5 percent) from December 2023, and down 0.2 percent (±0.5 percent)* below last year. Nonstore retailers were up 6.4 percent (±1.6 percent) from last year, while food services and drinking places were up 6.3 percent (±2.3 percent) from January 2023.