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Thursday, 13 February 2014 10:38

US retail sales down 0.4 percent in January

WASHINGTON (AP) - Cold weather caused U.S. retail sales to drop in January. Americans spent less on autos and clothing and at restaurants during a brutally cold month. The Commerce Department says retail sales fell 0.4 percent last month. That marked the second straight decline after a 0.1 percent drop in December. The drop suggests that the momentum from consumer spending at the end of 2013 has tailed off this winter. Auto sales fell 2.1 percent. Excluding volatile spending on autos, gas and building supplies, retail sales were flat compared with December. Americans spent more at gas stations because of rising prices. Their purchases of building materials also increased, possibly a sign of preparation for snowstorms. Over the past 12 months, retail sales have risen 2.6 percent.