WASHINGTON – U.S. retail sales rose slightly in January after a sharp drop in December, reflecting caution taken by consumers amid a government shutdown and volatile stock market.
The Commerce Department said Monday retail sales increased just 0.2 percent, after a sharp fall of 1.6 percent in December, the biggest drop in nine years.
The economy has stumbled after healthy growth last summer and fall. Weaker economies overseas, the U.S.-China trade fight, and the 35-day government shutdown dented consumer and business confidence. Economists believe growth could fall below a 1 percent annual rate in the first three months of this year.
In January, auto sales plunged by the most in five years, and furniture and electronics stores sales also declined.
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