Feb 17, 2021 - Economy & Business

Retail sales surge 5.3% in January

A Lego giraffe at a shopping mall in Columbus, Ohio
Shoppers walk past a giraffe made from Lego blocks at the Easton Town Center Mall in Columbus, Ohio. Photo:grapher: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Retail sales jumped 5.3% last month — blowing past the 1.2% increase anticipated by economists, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday.

Why it matters: It’s the first month-over-month increase in shopping figures since September — with consumers getting a boost from the most recent pandemic relief package.

By the numbers: The $568 billion spent across retailers last month is 7.4% higher than this time last year, before the pandemic hit.

  • Retail sales initially surpassed pre-pandemic levels last year, as consumers opened their wallets after the shock of the coronavirus and early relief measures took effect.
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