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US retail sales up six per cent, apparel sales on the rise

On a 12-month smoothed basis, retail sales in the US rose by 6.2 per cent. This was the biggest increase in the measure in almost three years. Clothing and accessories specialty stores managed to turn in a good month, with sales up 2.5 per cent year-over-year or more than three per cent on a 12-month smoothed basis. However, department, chain and discount stores saw their sales tumble again, by 7.4 per cent.

The combined department, chain and specialty channels, the apparel-oriented stores, dropped 1.4 per cent. Apparel retail stores in the US had the best January sales in almost two years. Sales at non-store retail, which includes pure-play e-commerce, increased by almost 12 per cent in January, driven by continued gains by Amazon.

The total retail inventory-to-sales ratio fell to its lowest point in almost a year and a half, but rose slightly for department, chain, discount and apparel stores in December, due to sluggish holiday sales that left these stores with excess merchandise. January retail sales, which include gasoline, groceries and automobiles, rose 5.6 per cent over December 2015.