The $649.8 billion in January 2022 U.S. retail sales represented a 3.8% gain over sales in December 2021 and a 13% increase compared to January 2021’s sales. These figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, which represent advance estimates and are adjusted for seasonal variations but not for price changes, indicated that the positive trends were not a one-month phenomenon: sales for the November 2021-January 2022 period were up 16.1% compared to the same period last year.
Retail trade sales for January, which exclude gas stations and foodservice locations, also were in positive territory, up 4.4% compared to December 2021 and up 11.4% compared to January 2021.
These strong spending numbers are even more impressive considering the multiple headwinds U.S. consumers are facing, including the lingering impact of the COVID-19 omicron variant, inflation (currently running at 7.8%) and supply chain challenges.
“A triad of forces weighed on consumer behavior and spending as weather slammed a large portion of the United States, the omicron variant was relentless, and inflation was escalating,” said Jack Kleinhenz, Chief Economist at the NRF in a statement. “On top of that, the enhanced child care tax credit ceased at the end of 2021, impacting millions of families. Despite all that, consumers ramped up spending even after a record-breaking holiday season.”
“January’s numbers show that 2022 is starting very strong for consumers and retailers, especially on the heels of a record holiday season and record sales in 2021,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay in a statement. “While the year ahead has challenges with inflationary pressures, labor shortages, COVID-19 impacts and uncertainty related to international tensions in Russia and China, today’s numbers show that despite these concerns, consumers are spending, and the economy remains in good shape.”