By Alan Wolf, YSN

Following a tough slog in 2019, furniture and home furnishings dealers started the new year and the new decade on an up note, with channel revenue rising nearly 2 percent in January to more than $9.7 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau reported.

But the results were less upbeat for the electronics and appliance stores sector, which witnessed a 3.2 percent decline in sell-through year over year, to $8 billion, according to the agency’s latest monthly sales estimates.

Sales for both channels were essentially static from the prior month, however, edging up 0.6 percent for furniture and home furnishings retailers, and slipping 0.5 percent for electronics and appliance shops from December.

Leading the retail parade once again were online retailers and other direct-to-consumer merchants, who enjoyed a 9.5 percent spike in January sales year over year, to some $66 billion.

Total retail sales for the month, excluding food, gasoline and automobile outlets, were up 4 percent from the prior year, to $463 billion, the agency said.

“The strength of consumer spending continues to be the anchor of the current economic expansion,” observed Jack Kleinhenz, Chief Economist for the National Retail Federation (NRF), the world’s largest retail trade association. “January’s retail sales results reflect a confident consumer supported by solid wage growth and job gains. While the business sector continues to weigh significant uncertainties, consumers are providing staying power for U.S. economic growth. We are starting the year on a strong footing.”

Editor’s Note: The sales estimates cited were adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading day differences, but not for price changes.