New York City U.S. shoppers pulled back from spending in January, but retail sales rose for a third month in a row compared with a year earlier, largely because of hikes in gas prices, according to MasterCard Advisor's SpendingPulse, which offer an estimate of spending in all forms including cash.
Including goods from food to clothing to gasoline -- but excluding cars -- U.S. retail sales rose 3.6% from January 2009, according to SpendingPulse. That increase followed a 4.8% gain in December and a 2.1% gain in November.
Excluding both gas and auto sales, retail sales rose 0.3% in January, 2.1% in December and 0.2% in November, compared with a year earlier. The year-over-year figures are not seasonally adjusted.
"It is a modest pace of spending," said Kamalesh Rao, director of economic research for MasterCard Advisors' SpendingPulse. "Consumers are not going back to their caves, but they are not spending aggressively either."
SpendingPulse's month-to-month figures -- which are seasonally adjusted and include gasoline but exclude autos -- show January's sales rising 2.8% from December's, which fell 1.9% from November's. November's sales rose 1.1% from October.
SpendingPulse estimates that women's clothing sales rose 2.7% and men's rose 2.5% in January 2010 from January 2009. In contrast, electronics sales rose only 0.4% and online sales growth slowed to 15.1% from 17.7% in December 2009.