Retail Sales in U.S. Unexpectedly Fell 0.4% in January

Posted by Bloomberg

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Retail sales in the U.S. declined in January by the most in 10 months as inclement weather kept consumers away from auto showrooms and stores.

The 0.4 percent decrease followed a revised 0.1 percent drop in December that was previously reported as an increase, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. Themedian forecast of 86 economists surveyed by Bloomberg called for no change. Sales excluding automobiles were unchanged.

Some Americans stayed closer to home, limiting trips to car dealerships and malls, as colder-than-normal temperatures and snowfall gripped parts of the nation. Job growth and wage gains the last two months also slowed, indicating consumers may have trouble maintaining the pace of spending after the fastest increase in three years in the final quarter of 2013.

“It’s not looking good for consumer spending,” said Guy Berger, U.S. economist at RBS Securities Inc. in StamfordConnecticut, and the top forecaster for retail sales over the last two years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. “Even if you have some modest improvement in the pace of employment growth, that’s not enough to generate a huge improvement in income.”

Estimates in the Bloomberg survey ranged from a decline of 0.5 percent to a 0.4 percent gain. The reading for the prior month was revised from an initially reported 0.2 percent increase.

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