Washington — While overall retail sales for January had a decline of 0.4 percent compared with month prior, food and beverage stores saw gains of 0.2 percent for the same period, totaling $55.6 billion, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Grocery stores experienced sales gains of 0.4 percent, month-to-month, with total sales reaching $49.4 billion, the Census Bureau reports.
The National Retail Federation (NRF) reports the declines in overall sales are attributable to harsh winter weather. Federation President and CEO Matthew Shay says: “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.”
However, total retail sales assessed on a year-to-year basis show a 2.6 percent gain. Similarly, food and beverage store sales grew 4.3 percent compared with the year prior, while grocery sales increased four percent for the same period.
Overall retail sales, excluding motor vehicles and parts, reached $347.7 billion, according to the Census Bureau.
NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz adds: “Harsh winter weather is masking the performance of the broader economy. 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 conclusions until we shovel out of the snow.”