U.S. retail sales broadly declined in January, indicating consumers took a breather after a strong holiday shopping season.

The value of retail purchases, unadjusted for inflation, decreased 0.8 per cent from December after a downward revision to the prior month, U.S. Commerce Department data showed Thursday. The drop was the biggest in nearly a year.

Nine of 13 categories posted decreases, led by building materials stores and auto dealers.

While severe winter weather may have impacted the figures, a sustained decline in sales would indicate that household spending is at risk of deteriorating. Consumers have so far supported strong economic growth and helped keep the U.S. out of a recession.

So-called control-group sales — which are used to calculate gross domestic product — dropped 0.4 per cent in January, the first decline since March. The measure excludes food services, auto dealers, building materials stores and gasoline stations.

Treasury yields slid and S&P 500 index futures gained while the U.S. dollar tumbled.

What Bloomberg Economics says

“Consumers pulled back on spending following the holiday season and amid colder weather — largely as expected. However, even with spending weakness concentrated in interest-rate sensitive categories, January’s pullback was broad-based as consumers tighten their belts amid higher borrowing costs and credit-card delinquencies.”

— Estelle Ou.

The retail figures largely reflect purchases of merchandise, which comprise a relatively narrow share of overall consumer outlays. A separate release due later this month will show January spending on goods and services, and those figures are adjusted for inflation.

Thursday’s figures showed purchases made at restaurants and bars — the only service-sector category in the report — climbed 0.7 per cent last month. Receipts at grocery stores rose by a similar amount.

Data out Tuesday showed U.S. consumer prices jumped at the start of the year amid a pickup in service costs, while a months-long decline in the price of goods continued to offer Americans some relief.

A separate report showed that initial applications for unemployment benefits fell to 212,000 last week, pointing to a steady labor market. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists called for 220,000.