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U.S. retail sales see largest growth in two years despite inflation concerns

Retail sales grew 3% in January in spite of inflation increases, outpacing the 1.8% rise predicted by economists.

U.S. retail sales rose 3% in January, according to the U.S. Commerce Department, the biggest monthly increase since March of 2021.

Analysts had originally expected U.S. retail sales to climb 1.8% in January, following a middling holiday season turnout. The month over month gain is even more surprising when compared to inflation, which also outpaced expectations to climb 0.5% from December and 6.4% annually, according to increases in the cost of goods and services. Although it is still too early in the year to make reliable predictions, the economy is off to a stronger start than expected.

The main concerns for analysts are what actions the Federal Reserve will take in response to this news and whether a recession is still imminent. The Fed has already hinted at the possibility of further interest rate hikes, and, unfortunately, higher retail sales volume is likely to both hasten their arrival and prolong their use. This is because more spending translates to more demand, which, without additional supply, causes prices to jump. To force prices back down, the Fed will need to scale its disinflationary measures accordingly.

Furthermore, while the unexpected increase in retail sales volume indicates that the American consumer is more financially resilient than anticipated, one month of positive trends does not cancel out the threat of a recession. Analysts expect a recession, if one occurs, to arrive before the third quarter, leaving five months of economic activity for spending to slow. As the months go by, the actual probability of a recession will become more clear, but for now retailers can feel slightly more secure in the strength of their businesses and what the future holds for the economy.

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Colin Velez
Colin Velez
Colin Velez is a staff writer/reporter for CBT News. After obtaining his bachelor’s in Communication from Kennesaw State University in 2018, he kicked off his writing career by developing marketing and public relations material for various industries, including travel and fashion. Throughout the next four years, he developed a love for working with journalists and other content creators, and his passion eventually led him to his current position. Today, Colin writes news content and coordinates stories with auto-industry insiders and entrepreneurs throughout the U.S.

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