January Retail Sales Reach Post-Recession High

by: Mark J. Perry
The Census Bureau reported today that U.S. consumers set a new all-time monthly record by spending $381.5 billion on retail and food services in January. Without adjusting for inflation, this was the second straight month since the recession started in December 2007 that consumer spending has surpassed the pre-recession, previous record-high retail sales volume of of $380.0 billion set back in November 2007.
The highest-ever retail spending amount in January was 7.8% higher than the year-earlier level, and spending in every category except electronics and appliance stores (-0.3%), and department stores (-0.8%) registered annual gains last month, with especially strong gains in motor vehicles and parts (15.7%), building materials (8.7%), miscellaneous stores (+10.2%) and nonstore retailers (13.5%). The 3-month retail sales total through January 2011 of $1.14 trillion is running 7.6% ahead of the same period a year ago.