Despite pressure from the COVID-19 Omicron variant, inflation and even weather on the shopping public, retail sales had a solid January, according to the National Retail Federation.
Based on numbers released by the United States Census Bureau, NRF retail sales calculation had January up 4.7% seasonally adjusted from December and 8.5% unadjusted year-over-year. December sales slipped 3.6% month-over-month in NRF’s reckoning but gained 13% year-over-year. NRF sales numbers advanced 12.5% unadjusted year-over-year on a three-month moving average as of January, the organization pointed out. The NRF calculation excludes automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants to focus on core retail.
The Census Bureau said overall retail sales in January were up 3.8% seasonally adjusted from December and 13% year-over-year and that December overall retail sales were down 2.5% from November but up 16.7% year-over-year. Despite occasional month-over-month declines, sales have grown year-over-year every month since June 2020, NRF emphasized.
January sales numbers increased in most categories as defined by the Census Bureau, NRF noted. Category sales results came in as:
- General merchandise stores up 3.6% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and 6.4% unadjusted year-over-year
- Electronics and appliance stores up 1.9% month-over-month seasonally adjusted but down 3% unadjusted year-over-year
- Furniture and home furnishings stores up 7.2% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and 1.5% unadjusted year-over-year
- Grocery and beverage stores up 1.1% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and 7.2% unadjusted year-over-year
- Building materials and garden supply stores up 4.1% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and 12.7% unadjusted year-over-year
- Health and personal care stores down 0.7% month-over-month seasonally adjusted but up 7.7% unadjusted year-over-year
- Sporting goods stores down 3% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and 0.8% unadjusted year-over-year
- Clothing and clothing accessory stores up 0.7% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and 19.1% unadjusted year-over-year
- Online and other non-store sales up 14.5% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and 8.9% unadjusted year-over-year
“January’s numbers show that 2022 is starting very strong for consumers and retailers, especially on the heels of a record holiday season and record sales in 2021,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said in announcing the January figures. “While the year ahead has challenges with inflationary pressures, labor shortages, COVID-19 impacts and uncertainty related to international tensions in Russia and China, today’s numbers show that despite these concerns, consumers are spending, and the economy remains in good shape. We are confident that retail sales growth and overall consumer financial health can continue, and current pressures in the economy should be moderated if election-year political pressures don’t result in policy decisions that compound the challenges our economy is already facing.”
NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said, “January sales overcame major headwinds that make the results all the more impressive. A triad of forces weighed on consumer behavior and spending as weather slammed a large portion of the United States, the Omicron variant was relentless, and inflation was escalating. On top of that, the enhanced child care tax credit ceased at the end of 2021, impacting millions of families. Despite all that, consumers ramped up spending even after a record-breaking holiday season.”