The level of retail sales in the U.S. grew in January by three percent compared to the prior month, according to new data from the federal Commerce Department. In December of last year, the rate of change was a drop of 1.1 percent per revised figures, making the increase in the rate of retail spending in January a particularly substantial turnaround.
Retail sales were also up 6.4 percent over the level of sales seen in January of last year, although these numbers are not adjusted for inflation, and that particular figure is the exact rate of price growth compared to the same point in the prior year seen across the economy last month, according to Labor Department data. The inflation figure was a slight reduction from the rate seen in December. The increase in prices in January only compared to the prior month was lower than the rate of increase in retail sales compared to December, meaning at least a substantial portion of it wasn’t simply creditable to inflation. According to the Labor Department, the one-month rate of inflation in January was 0.5 percent. The Commerce Department also produces its own inflation figures that vary from these numbers and will be released later.
Although gas prices are among the more high-profile examples of inflation, even if those costs are showing inflation in decline, the Labor Department spotlighted housing costs in its report on prices across the economy in January. Completely eliminating food and energy from the inflation calculations only knocked off one-tenth of a percentage point, leaving the rate of inflation in January at 0.4 percent over the prior month. “The index for shelter was by far the largest contributor to the monthly all items increase, accounting for nearly half of the monthly all items increase, with the indexes for food, gasoline, and natural gas also contributing,” authorities said. Notably, the category deemed medical care services actually posted a slight decline in costs in January compared to December, dropping by 0.7 percent, although there was still an overall increase seen over the course of the year ending in January. Across the year, gas was actually among the categories with the lowest overall jump, and for some reason, used cars and trucks saw a very large drop in prices, at 11.6 percent.