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January retail levels up, home furnishings strong

Washington – Retail sales jumped by 2.3% in January, with strong activity in nearly every channel of distribution, the Commerce Department reported. Emphasizing how gift cards and post-holiday shopping have tilted the axis of holiday retailing, shifting sales from December into January, the January increase of 2.3% dwarfed a December sales gain of just 0.4%.

Home-related categories were good performers, with furniture and home furnishings stores gaining by 3.7%, building material and garden supply chains climbing by 3.4% and volume in electronics and appliances up by 2.0%.

Not surprisingly in an era of rising gas prices, the single biggest gainer during January was gas stations, where prices at the pump drove sales up by 5.5%. The sole decliner during the month was the non-store channel, where sales dropped off by 2.6%.

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