Retail sales increase for seventh straight month

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Census Bureau on Tuesday reported that retail sales continue on a positive trend, edging up 0.3% for the month of January.

The increase to $381.6 billion marked the seventh consecutive month of gains for retail sales. Total sales for the month were above the year-ago period by 7.8%.

Biggest gainers this month were grocery stores, health and personal care stores and electronics and appliance stores. Clothing and clothing accessory stores sales decreased 0.3% seasonally adjusted over last month but increased 1.8% unadjusted year-over-year. Sales at grocery stores increased 1.4% seasonally adjusted from the previous month and 3.8% unadjusted year-over-year.

Commenting on the retail sales results was the National Retail Federation's president and CEO, Matthew Shay. NRF is releasing its economic forecast for 2011 on Thursday.

“In spite of the economic uncertainties that still exist, consumers are clearly demonstrating their desire to spend on discretionary items once again,” Shay said. “The industry is certainly benefitting from the renewed confidence we’re seeing in shoppers, although sustained growth in 2011 will largely rely on improvement in key economic indicators like employment and housing.”