WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. retail sales rebounded sharply in January after households received additional pandemic relief money from the government, suggesting a pick-up in economic activity after being restrained by a fresh wave of COVID-19 infections late last year.
The surge in sales reported by the Commerce Department on Wednesday was across the board and ended three straight months of declines. Other data showed inflation pressures building up at the factory gate, with producer prices posting their biggest gain since 2009 in January.
Retail sales surged by a seasonally adjusted 5.3% last month, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday. Data for December was revised down to show sales decreasing 1.0% instead of 0.7% as previously reported. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast retail sales increasing 1.1% in January.
Retail sales increased 7.4% from a year ago. Sales last month were led by motor vehicles, with receipts at auto dealerships accelerating 3.1% after increasing 2.0% in December. Sales at clothing stores soared 5.0%.