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Today the U.S. Census Bureau released preliminary estimates of nationwide retail sales in January 2022 and revised estimates for December 2021. (The data include both brick-and-mortar and Internet sales.)

Retail Sales Remain Elevated. Seasonally adjusted U.S. retail sales grew 3.8 percent from December to January. Retail sales have been elevated after growing dramatically in January 2021 and March 2021. Cumulative twelve-month growth in sales from January 2021 to January 2022 was 13 percent.

Inflation-Adjusted Growth Much Lower. Across all goods and services purchased by consumers, seasonally adjusted U.S. prices grew 7.5 percent from January 2021 to January 2022. Prices for tangible goods—especially gasoline—grew faster than the 7.5 percent headline inflation number. These price increases have offset more than half of the apparent “growth” in retail sales.


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