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Retail Sales Rose Strongly in January, Driven by Stimulus

Retail Sales Rose Strongly in January, Driven by Stimulus

U.S. shoppers boosted spending by 5.3% in January, the first monthly increase in four months, buoyed by stimulus payments that many households receive

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U.S. shoppers boosted spending by 5.3% in January, the first monthly increase in four months, buoyed by stimulus payments that many households received in the most recent virus-relief package.

Consumers spent more in a number of areas last month, with furniture and electronics posting double-digit month-over-month gains, the Commerce Department said on Wednesday in its latest retail sales report. Receipts at bars and restaurants also increased 6.9% from December.

January’s sales gain was significantly higher than economists expected. Forecasters surveyed by The Wall Street Journal estimated that retail sales—a measure of spending at stores, vehicle dealerships, restaurants and online—increased a seasonally adjusted 1.2% in January from a month earlier.

Robert Rosener, senior U.S. economist at Morgan Stanley, said the report “will be the start of exiting the worst of the softer data winter we’ve seen,” with the $600-a-recipient stimulus checks distributed in early January the main factor driving an uptick in spending.

Allen Merry said he used his recent stimulus check to buy a used acoustic guitar from a local musical instrument shop.

This post first appeared on wsj.com

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