|Month over Month||0.3%||0.0%||-0.1%|
|Year over Year||-0.8%||0.6%||0.7%|
January retail sales were only unchanged on the month at the start of the year. Following an unrevised 0.1 percent dip in December, purchases in January were an unadjusted 0.8 percent below their level in January 2015 after annual growth of 0.7 percent in December.
Volumes were also flat on the month and 1.6 percent weaker on the year.
January's nominal stability reflected no monthly change in food sales and a meagre 0.1 percent gain in non-food demand. Overall sales were unchanged from their average level in the fourth quarter. With consumer confidence sliding in February to its lowest level since last September, the chances are that household consumption this quarter may struggle just to match the modest 0.3 percent increase seen in October-December.
Retail sales measure the total receipts at stores that sell durable and nondurable goods. The monthly change in the headline figure, which is reported in volume terms, is only disaggregated into food and non-food categories.
With consumer spending a large part of the economy, market players continually monitor spending patterns. Retail sales are a measure of consumer well-being. The pattern in consumer spending is often the foremost influence on stock and bond markets. For stocks, strong economic growth translates to healthy corporate profits and higher stock prices. For bonds, the focus is whether economic growth goes overboard and leads to inflation. Ideally, the economy walks that fine line between strong growth and excessive (inflationary) growth.
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