Retail report: January enjoyed healthy spending climate

In general, retailers reported good sales gains in January, due in large part to the healthier economy, low gas prices and optimistic employment outlook for 2015.

Costco was one of the retailers that reported no sales gain, even though it expected an increase of 1.6 percent, according to NASDAQ. However, industry experts say that's not indicative of losses to come, but rather a result of the low fuel costs. Not counting fuel sales, January same-store sales for Costco increased by 7 percent.

Michael Niemira, the chief economist at The Retail Economist, told NASDAQ that January same-store sales rose 1.5 percent from 2014. If the Costco gas slump is excluded from the calculation, then sales gained by 6.6 percent. These results are good for January, a time when consumers are typically worn out from the holiday sales season and don't have as much extra income to spend.

Niemira also said the January results paint an optimistic picture of the rest of 2015, especially since the positive effects of the low gas prices haven't yet kicked in.

"We really haven't seen the positive impact of gas prices declining yet," he said. "The big impact doesn't show up until the second, third and fourth quarters of this year."

So, it looks like consumers and economists alike are feeling positive about the next year, and we can expect to see good things from the retail industry in the coming months. If your business is expecting gains in sales and traffic, make sure your employees are working with credit card payment software that is efficient and secure. Your customers will appreciate the customized, quick transaction experience that comes from sophisticated technology.
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