Feb 15, 2024 - Economy

Retail sales data for January shows consumer pullback

shoppers at a mall

Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

January retail sales fell 0.8% from a month earlier — the biggest monthly drop in almost a year with pullbacks at most retail shops, except restaurants, the Commerce Department said Thursday. Previous months' data were also revised to show slightly weaker spending than first reported.

Why it matters: The unstoppable American consumer may be losing momentum.

Yes, but: That weak retail sales figure might be a result of measurement quirks and bad weather across most of the country last month.

  • "One-off factors including shifting seasonal adjustment dynamics and the unusually harsh winter weather likely help explain the disappointing performance," EY-Parthenon economist Lydia Boussour wrote.

The big picture: Besides this morning's data, most other indicators in recent months point to a strong consumer that has underpinned the better-than-expected economic growth in the U.S.

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