A big drop in the number of Americans buying cars in January caused US retail sales figures to fall by 0.3% according to the latest government statistics from Washington. Cars account for nearly a quarter of US retail purchases and sales have swung widely in recent months as manufacturers’ incentives to buy new cars came and went.
However, purchases outside the volatile car sector were up a healthy 0.6%.
Sales of furniture, electronics and appliances, and building material and garden equipment declined in January, but demand at clothing and general merchandise shops as well as petrol stations increased.
Analysts said the data proved consumer spending, while slowing from last year’s robust pace, is on a solid footing and economic growth is off to a good start in 2005.