In a rare, back-to-back performance, retail sales in the US fell for the second month after a downward revision put December sales into the red.
Blame the Weather
In a blame the weather tactic Reuters reports Retail Demand a Bit Cooler.
While the two straight months of declining sales most likely reflected frigid temperatures, there were also signs of general weakness creeping in as online sales also fell.
Stripping out automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, so-called core sales fell 0.3 percent. Core sales for December were revised to only a 0.3 percent rise from a previously reported 0.7 percent advance. November's core sales figure was also revised down.
Core sales correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product.
The downward revisions to November and December core sales suggest that fourth-quarter consumer spending and economic growth were not as strong as initially thought.
Bloomberg reports Retail Sales in U.S. Unexpectedly Fell 0.4% in January
Sales at U.S. retailers declined in January by the most since June 2012 amid bad weather and uneven progress in the labor market, signaling the economy was off to a slow start in 2014.
The 0.4 percent decrease followed a revised 0.1 percent drop in December that was previously reported as an increase, according to Commerce Department figures released today in Washington. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for no change. Jobless claims unexpectedly climbed last week, other data showed.
After the drop in retail sales, Goldman Sachs cut its tracking estimate for first-quarter growth to 1.9 percent from 2.3 percent, Credit Suisse lowered to 1.6 percent from 2.6 percent, and Morgan Stanley reduced its projection to 0.9 percent from 1.9 percent.