According to a CNBC/National Retail Foundation (NRF) report released Monday, core retail sales, which excludes volatile automobile, gasoline, and restaurant sales, were 3.2% higher than the year-ago in January. This showed that consumers sustained their spending habits into 2024, driving sales higher again in January. The report also measured for December and was better than the 2.4% year-over-year sales growth. Retail sales were up in six of nine categories tracked by the NRF, including health, clothing, and groceries. The report stated, “January sales continued the strong performance of retail sales in December, which is impressive coming off a record holiday season”, according to NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. The report comes ahead of Thursday’s U.S. retail sales data from the Census Bureau, which economists will watch to see if consumers again beat spending expectations.
Also in the news is the monthly survey of 1,300 households conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, revealing that household views on personal finances and the economy are looking brighter as high inflation continues to fade. In January, many people said their finances were better off than a year ago, and the median expectation for the inflation rate in three years fell to 3.03%, its lowest since March 2020. Despite the more positive outlook, people took a dimmer view of some aspects of the labor market. On average, people said they had a 54.2% chance of finding another job in the next three months if they lost their current position, the lowest since September 2021. Recent government data on the labor market has been mixed, with companies still hiring at a brisk pace though many have pulled back on job openings in recent months.