WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) â€” Most U.S. retailers posted strong sales in January, even beleaguered department stores, perhaps a sign that higher consumer confidence since the election has encouraged Americans to spend more.
Retail sales rose 0.4% last month following a much bigger gain in December than originally reported, the government said Wednesday. Economists polled by MarketWatch had forecast an 0.2% increase.
Every major retail sector reported higher sales except for auto dealers, whose business tends to tail off after the Christmas shopping season. Auto purchases account for about one-fifth of all retail spending.
If autos are excluded U.S. retail sales rose a robust 0.8%, the Commerce Department said.