US consumer purchases gains

US retail sales rose 0.2 percent in January 2019, helped by an increase in purchases of building materials and discretionary spending. The report from the Commerce Department was delayed by the 35-day partial shutdown of the federal government that ended on January 25, 2019.

Excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, retail sales gained 1.1 percent in January. These so-called core retail sales correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product.

In January, online and mail-order retail sales increased 2.6 percent, the biggest gain since December 2017. Sales at building material stores increased 3.3 percent, the most since September 2017.

Discretionary spending rose in January, with sales at restaurants and bars advancing 0.7 percent and purchases at hobby, musical instrument and book stores jumping 4.8 percent, the largest increase since January 2013. Sales at food and beverage stores gained by the most since April 2016.

The government reported last month that the economy grew at a 2.6 percent annualized rate in the last three months of 2018.