Driven by the latest round of stimulus checks approved in late December, retail sales surged 5.3% in January from a monthly decline of 0.7% in December, the Commerce Department reported on Wednesday.
The gains, which smashed economists’ consensus forecast of a 1.1% increase, were particularly strong in e-commerce (11%), furniture (12%) and electronics (14.7%) and are a reflection of the demand that has built up among consumers, particularly for more expensive items, amid the resurgence of the pandemic this winter.
Consumer demand will be one of the primary drivers of an economic recovery this year as foot traffic in stores starts to come back.
Another bright spot in the report was the increase of 6.9% for restaurants, which bodes well for service organizations as vaccines and warmer weather allow for additional outdoor dining. These gains are poised to gain momentum with the possibility of another round of stimulus spending in the coming weeks.
For more information on how the coronavirus pandemic is affecting midsize businesses, please visit the RSM Coronavirus Resource Center.