By Alan Wolf, YSN
Roused by another round of stimulus checks and flickers of light at the end of the COVID tunnel, consumers loosened their wallets last month and gave dealers a January to remember.
In a break from the traditional January doldrums that follow robust holiday buying, overall retail sales rose 5.3 percent from December and increased 7.4 percent over January 2020, according to the latest monthly revenue report from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Leading the pack were appliance and electronics stores, which enjoyed a seasonally adjusted increase of 14.7 percent over December, while furniture and home furnishings stores were up 12 percent month-over-month seasonally adjusted. And, for the first time in memory, those retail channels outperformed online-only merchants, whose sales rose 11 percent month-over-month seasonally adjusted.
“There was none of the falloff in spending that we often find post-holiday, and the increase was even better than expected,” observed Jack Kleinhenz, Chief Economist of the National Retail Federation (NRF), the world’s largest retail trade association.
Looking ahead, Kleinhenz expects the economy — and retail sales — to continue picking up steam. “There is plenty of purchasing power available for most consumers,” he said, “and the pickup in shopping has even been reflected in the number of hours worked by retail employees. 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.”
For the full year, 2020 retail sales were up 6.7 percent in total over 2019, the Census Bureau reported.