WASHINGTON Americans barely spent more last month at retail businesses and restaurants after higher taxes cut their paychecks. The small increase suggests consumer spending may be weak in the January-March quarter.
The Commerce Department says retail sales ticked up 0.1 percent last month after a 0.5 percent rise in December. January's increase was the smallest in three months.
Sales fell at auto dealerships, clothing stores and furniture stores. They rose at home-improvement stores, gas stations and online retailers.
So-called core retail sales, which exclude autos, building materials, and gas stations, ticked up 0.2 percent. Economists pay close attention to core sales because they strip out the most volatile categories.
Nearly all working Americans are taking home less pay because of a temporary cut in Social Security taxes that expired last month.