Winter storms blamed for flat January retail sales

Census Bureau estimates released Thursday reveled that retail sales were down slightly in January from December and bad weather is being blamed.
Seasonally adjusted U.S. retail and food services sales for January were estimated to be $427.8 billion, a decrease of 0.4 percent from December. That is still a 2.6 percent increase from a year ago, but the disappointing figures contributed to a slow opening on Wall Street on Thursday.
The National Retail Federation (NRF) blamed the weather and said it was masking what would otherwise be stronger growth in the sector.
“Following a solid holiday sales season, it seems that many consumers decided to take a break from the stores and shopping malls this January in an attempt to avoid winter weather,” NRF President Matthew Shay said. “Even though policymakers decided wisely to increase the debt ceiling this week so the nation would not default on its obligations, more can be done to spur consumer confidence and spending and employment and economic opportunity.”
The NRF this month projected a 4.1 percent increase in retail sales in 2014.
Arctic weather has made this winter one of the worst in years in the Midwest and eastern half of the United States. On Thursday, the federal government and most of Washington, D.C., was shut down for yet another snowstorm.