U.S. Retail Sales Post Biggest Gain in Nearly Two Years

The Commerce Department said on Wednesday that retail sales surged 3.0% last month, the largest increase since March 2021, after declining by an unrevised 1.1% in December.

Last month’s broad increase in retail sales was led by motor vehicle purchases, with receipts at auto dealers accelerating 5.9%. Sales at service stations were unchanged, despite rising gasoline prices. Online retail sales rebounded 1.3%.

Furniture stores sales jumped 4.4%. Receipts at food services and drinking places, the only services category in the retail sales report, soared 7.2%.

Electronics and appliance store sales shot up 3.5%. There were also hefty increases in clothing stores sales as well as receipts at general merchandise and health and personal care stores. Sporting goods, hobby and musical instrument stores eked out a 0.2% gain, while building material and garden equipment suppliers receipts climbed 0.3%.

Excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, retail sales increased 1.7% last month. These so-called core retail sales fell by an unrevised 0.7% in December.

Core retail sales correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product.