U.S. retail sales stabilized in January after a plunge the prior month that was larger than first reported, indicating consumers may still be able to help support economic growth after a dismal end to 2018.
The value of overall sales rose 0.2 percent after a 1.6 percent drop in the prior month that was the steepest since 2009, Commerce Department data showed Monday. The median forecast in Bloomberg’s survey called for an unchanged reading.
Sales in the “control group” subset, which some analysts view as a cleaner gauge of underlying consumer demand, rose 1.1 percent, topping estimates after a 2.3 percent drop in the prior month. The measure excludes food services, car dealers, building-materials stores and gasoline stations.
The stronger-than-expected report should ease concern about consumer strength after a surprisingly weak December that was likely hurt by the government shutdown and seasonal factors. Higher wage gains and a robust labor market have supported spending, the largest part of the economy, and fresh robustness bodes well for it to continue buoying growth in the first quarter