Retail sales jumped 5.3% in January, well ahead of the 1.2% expectation.
Americans flocked to spend their stimulus checks in January, sending retail sales for the month up 5.3% in a better-than-expected start to 2021, according to a government report Wednesday.
Economists surveyed by Dow Jones were expecting a rise of just 1.2%.
Excluding the auto sector, sales rose 5.9%, also far ahead of the 1% estimate in a display of unexpected strength from the consumer.
A month after Congress approved a $900 billion additional stimulus package to counteract the Covid-19 pandemic, shoppers were armed with $600 checks they used to buy a variety of goods.
Electronics and appliances saw the biggest increase, up 14.7% for the month, while furniture and home furnishing stores were up 12% and online spending at nonstore retailers jumped 11%.