Sales holding steady in January

Advance monthly retail sales for January increased 0.4% to $401.4 billion, according to data released this morning by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The January 2012 figure, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, is up 5.8% compared with the sales estimate from January 2011.

Also on an adjusted basis, the NAICS classification 444 -- building material & garden equipment and supplies dealers -- showed a 0.2% increase over December 2011, and an 8.1% increase compared with January 2011.  The latest NAICS 444 figure was estimated at $26.1 billion.

The National Retail Federation saw the bright side of the data. “Thanks to a combination of unseasonably warm weather across much of the country and millions of shoppers with gift cards burning holes in their pockets, retailers are still riding the tailwinds of consumers’ spending power,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “As a traditionally slower sales month for the industry, it’s encouraging to see such sustained growth in consumer spending and sentiment.”

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