Retail and food service sales saw a slight increase in January. The Census Bureau announced Feb. 14, 2020, that sales were up 0.3% from December 2019 and 4.4% from January 2019. Sales between November 2019 and January 2020 were also ahead 4.4% from the same period the previous year. However, retail sales alone were only improved by 0.1% from December 2019, yet the data is 4% above 2019. Non-store retailers saw an 8.4% jump from last year.
"For the most part retail did well this year, but the big shifts in the sector were even more obvious," said NACM Economist Chris Kuehl, Ph.D., in the January edition of NACM's Credit Managers' Index. "It was a good year for the online merchants and a bad-to-mediocre one for the brick-and-mortar versions; a pattern likely to intensify."
It was predicted sales would increase 0.3%, according to a poll of economists by Reuters. "The unchanged reading in core retail sales suggested consumer spending slowed further after it lost considerable momentum in the fourth quarter," the news outlet said.
"In January, there is a process of 'taking stock.' This year, there have been some worries about retail. While traffic numbers were good and revenue was up, many reported lower profits as consumers tended to stick to discounted goods; there is just not enough margin in these," Kuehl said.
-Michael Miller, managing editor