U.S. Retail Rebounds With More Than 14 Percent Increase Online Last Month

Despite rising inflation, many Americans increased shopping in January.

Retail sales in the U.S. increased 3.8 percent last month, according to a new report released on Wednesday by the Commerce Department. General stores saw an increase of 3.6 percent, while online shopping was up 14.5 percent.

Other areas of shopping also saw increases in revenue. Furniture stores saw a 7.2 percent increase in sales, while department stores saw an increase of 9.2 percent.

Not every area saw increases. The restaurant industry saw a slight dip of 0.9 percent, and gasoline sales fell 1.3 percent.

The gasoline decrease could be attributed to rising COVID-19 cases during the month, although they have begun to decrease in February. About 136,000 cases were reported on February 14, a sharp decrease from the 436,000 cases reported two weeks earlier, the Associated Press reported.

The numbers come after overall sales slid to 2.5 percent in December. While not confirmed by the report, the decrease in spending could be attributed to sharply rising inflation, which could have prevented some Americans from shopping more than usual during the month.

Brick-and-mortar and online shopping saw big increases in January, but experts said that physical shopping should be preserved amid the ongoing pandemic and inflation. In a recent op-ed published by Newsweek, Raydiant CEO Bobby Marhamat said that brick-and-mortar shopping will have to adjust in order to keep up with how current consumers shop.

"Retailers will continue to provide greater convenience and choice to customers — they truly have no other option," Marhamat wrote. "To succeed in 2022, organizations will need to meet customers based on their unique terms."

He continued, saying that physical stores must be willing to carry a variety of products that fit with each consumer's needs. If businesses can achieve this balance, then brick-and-mortar shopping could continue seeing increases even in a rapidly changing social and economic environment.

"The concept is simple enough," Marhamat said. "Identify what customers want most and double down on those segments of your retail operation. While executing this idea is more difficult, it's a goal worth striving toward."

Newsweek reached out to the U.S. Department of Commerce for comment but did not hear back in time for publication.

Update 2/16/22, 10:10 a.m. ET: This story has been updated to include more information on the future of brick-and-mortar shopping in relation to the statistics provided.

Woman shopping
According to a new report released on Wednesday by the U.S. Commerce Department, retail sales increased 3.8 percent last month. DAVID DE LOSSY/GETTY