Retail sales tumbled 0.8% in January, much more than expected

February 15, 2024

Consumer spending fell sharply in January, presenting a potential early danger sign for the economy, the Commerce Department reported Thursday. Advance retail sales declined 0.8% for the month following a downwardly revised 0.4% gain in December, according to the Census Bureau. The sales report is adjusted for seasonal factors but not for inflation, so the release showed spending lagging the pace of price increases. Miscellaneous store sales fell 3% and motor vehicle parts and retailers saw a 1.7% decrease. The control group of retail sales, which excludes items such as food service, autos, gas and building materials, fell 0.4%.