WASHINGTON - Sales of merchant wholesalers were down 0.1% to $413.1 billion in January, following a revised 1.4% gain the previous month, while inventories increased 0.4% in the month, the Commerce Department reported Friday.
January sales were 7.9% above the January 2011 level.
The 0.1% fall in sales for January 2012 contrasted with the median 0.8% increase projected by economists polled by Thomson Reuters.
Inventories were up 0.4% to $475.5 billion for January, after a revised 1.1% gain in December.
The January level of inventories was 9.4% above the January 2011 level.
The 0.4% gain for January 2012 fell short of the median 0.6% increase estimated by economists polled by Thomson Reuters.
The January inventories/sales ratio was 1.15, unchanged from the previous month but slightly higher than the 1.14 ratio for January 2011.