WASHINGTON — Americans increased their spending at gasoline stations and restaurants in January, pushing up overall retail sales even as auto buying fell.
The Commerce Department says retail sales rose a seasonally adjusted 0.4 per cent last month, slowing down from a solid 1 per cent gain in December.
Higher gas prices drove a 2.3 per cent sales increase at service stations. Purchases at restaurants and bars climbed 1.4 per cent. But sales at auto dealers slipped 1.2 per cent after jumping 2.9 per cent in December.
Over the past 12 months, retail sales have risen a solid 5.6 per cent. The greater spending likely reflects the improving job market. Employers added 227,000 workers in January, while the unemployment rate ticked up slightly to 4.8 per cent because more people started looking for jobs and were counted as unemployed.