NEW YORK - Retail sales increased in January, according to business executives responding to the Texas Retail Outlook Survey. The sales index edged down from 13.7 to 12.1, marking eight consecutive months of sales increases. Inventories rose albeit at the slowest pace in seven months.

Labor market indicators reflected continued hiring and slightly longer workweeks. The employment index was largely unchanged at 5.6. The hours worked index fell slightly to 2.2 in January, suggesting average workweeks grew but at a slower pace.  

Perceptions of general business conditions improved again in January.  The general business activity index came in at 17.9, its fourth consecutive reading in positive territory. The company outlook index was positive for the fifth month in a row, with a reading of 23. Nearly a third of respondents said their company’s outlook had improved from the prior month, compared with 8 percent who noted their outlook had worsened.

Retail prices rose faster in January, while wage pressures subsided slightly. The selling prices index rose from 13.7 to 21.2. The wages and benefits index moved down from 13.2 to 7.9, although the great majority of respondents continued to note no change in labor costs.

Indexes of future retail sector activity remained in solid positive territory in January, while both the index of future general business activity and the index of future company outlook were largely unchanged.

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