Retail Sales Off in January

Washington, DC, February 15--Retail sales declined 0.3 percent in January as automobile sales dropped sharply, according to a report from the Commerce Department. Excluding the 3.3 percent drop in auto sales, retail sales increased 0.6 percent during the month. The automotive sector saw its largest decline in sales in five months Economists were expecting a decline of 0.4 percent in total sales and a gain of 0.5 percent gain in sales excluding automobiles. Sales during December were revised to reflect an increased of 1.1 percent, from the earlier estimate of a gain of 1.2 percent. Sales excluding autos rose 0.3 percent in December. Sales, during the past 12 months rose 7.2 percent. Excluding automobile sales, sales for the period increased 7.6 percent. The figures are seasonally adjusted, but not adjusted for price changes. January sales at building material, hardware and garden stores dropped 0.3 percent. Sales at electronics and appliance sales dropped 0.6 percent. Sales at furniture stores fell 0.1 percent. Online and catalog sales declined 0.2 percent.