Retail sales were up 4.4% in January, thanks to strong growth in building supply sales. Total taxable retail sales in January were $1.05 billion, according to the Maine State Planning Office.
Building supply sales grew 26% year-over-year in January, which marked the eighth consecutive month of strong retail sales growth in building supply stores. Auto/transportation grew 4.8%. Sales in the "other retail" category -- which includes jewelry stores, gift shops and antique stores -- were up 1.6%. Meanwhile, general merchandise sales, like clothing, furniture and household goods, slipped 0.5% from January 2011 to January 2012.
Retail sales for the last three months, November through January, were 5% higher than the same three-month period a year ago.