Retail sales jumped more than expected in January, up 0.2%.
Excluding autos and gas, the advance estimate from the Census Bureau showed that retail sales rose 0.4% compared to December. And, the retail sales control group, which feeds into GDP calculations, rose 0.6%.
Gains were recorded in grocery stores and non-store retailers (which include online merchants). Sales at gas stations continued to fall with prices, while restaurant and bar sales also fell.
Economists had estimated that retail sales rose 0.1% in January, according to Bloomberg. Excluding the volatile auto and gas categories, they had forecast that retail sales were flat compared to December.
The retail sales control group was estimated to have risen 0.3% last month.
Compared to January 2015, headline retail sales rose 3.4%.
Economists are watching these numbers for evidence that consumers are spending their savings from low gas prices.
“Despite all of the turmoil in financial markets and growing chatter about recession, consumer spending, the economy’s backbone, continues to move higher,” wrote PNC senior economist Gus Faucher. “Sales growth in January was solid, especially after taking into account the big drop in gasoline prices over the month, and growth in December was revised up.”