U.S. retail saw greatest growth in two years
By Alan Wolf, YSN
U.S. consumers, seemingly acclimated to higher prices and interest rates, came roaring back to retail in January after pulling back on spending last quarter — and furniture and appliance stores were among the biggest beneficiaries.
According to the latest retail sales estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau, January sell-through at U.S. furniture and home furnishings stores rose 4.4% from December and 3.8% from the year-ago period, to $12.3 billion.
Similarly, January sales at U.S. appliance and electronics stores were up 3.5% from December, to $6.9 billion, but were 6.5% below January 2022 levels, due largely to softened CE demand. (Sales figures were adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading day differences, but not for price changes.)
The strong showing for BrandSource product categories trailed only restaurants, bars, car dealers and department and auto parts stores, and came amid an overall resurgence for U.S. retailers. Total January sales rose 3% from December and 6.4% year over year, representing the biggest increase since March 2021, with economists attributing the glad tidings to job growth, wage gains, easing inflation and a growing economy.
“Consumer spending clearly picked up after the holidays,” said Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist for the National Retail Federation (NRF), the world’s largest retail trade association, citing job and wage growth, lower inflation, a large cost-of-living adjustment for Social Security recipients, and remaining savings accrued during the pandemic.
NRF President/CEO Matthew Shay also pointed to consumer resiliency amid inflationary headwinds, and praised retailers for having in place “the people, processes and technologies to meet consumers with the right inventory, competitive pricing and great experiences however consumers choose to shop.”