Retail sales were up 0.2 percent in January, boosted by online shopping and home centers. Economists predicted a 0.1 percent increase. This comes one month after December sales were down 1.6 percent, the largest drop since the latter days of the recession of 2009. The results were worse than anticipated.
The U.S. Department of Commerce released the January report Monday, later than usual because of the partial government shutdown.
Automobile dealers felt the brunt of the economic decline with a 2.4 percent drop in sales. There were steeper discounts and fewer vehicles sold to consumers and rental car businesses. Gas stations also reported a 2 percent drop in sales in January because of lower gas prices.
Stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s reported a surge in sales as did online retail giant Amazon. Other positives were restaurants, pharmacies, grocery stores and sporting good stores.
Slow auto sales after a disappointing December prompted some economists to worry about where the economy is going next.