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NRF: Cold weather freezes January retail growth Print Email
Written by Jeremy Burns   
Friday, 14 February 2014 04:48 PM America/New_York

MatthewShay-NRF-WebConsumers’ spending leveled off post-holiday in the beginning of the year due in part to severe winter weather in much of the country. January retail sales, excluding automobiles, gas stations and restaurants, were flat seasonally adjusted month-to-month, yet increased 3.0% unadjusted year-over-year, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).

Book, music, sporting goods and hobby stores’ sales decreased 1.4% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 1.5% unadjusted year-over-year.

“Following a solid holiday sales season, it seems that many consumers decided to take a break from the stores and shopping malls this January in an attempt to avoid winter weather,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “While the dip in retail sales was somewhat anticipated, it is concerning that both jobless claims came in above projections and that consumer spending were flat in January—it’s not the way to kick off a new year.”

Released Feb. 13 by the U.S. Census Bureau, January retail sales, which include categories such as automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants, decreased 0.4% seasonally adjusted month-to-month, yet increased 2.6% adjusted year-over-year.

“Harsh winter weather is masking the performance of the broader economy,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “Extreme temperatures and severe ice and snow are making it increasingly difficult to assess if the retail sales slowdown is temporary or a telling sign of a longer lasting weakness in the consumer-fueled economy. No one can jump to any solid conclusion until we shovel out of the snow.”

Earlier this month, NRF released its annual economic forecast projecting a 4.1% increase in retail sales in 2014.