MasterCard Advisors: Total U.S. retail sales for January up 5.5%

New York City -- Total retail sales (excluding autos) grew by 5.5% year-over-year, on par with December’s growth rate, and slightly higher than November’s, according to MasterCard Advisors’ SpendingPulse. SpendingPulse reports on national retail and services sales and is based on aggregate sales activity in the MasterCard payments network, coupled with survey-based estimates for all other payment forms

Strong sales also led to a rebound in shorter-term growth -- on a month-to-month seasonally adjusted basis, January sales were up by 1.8%, reversing the slowdown that month-to-month sales had posted in December, the report found. Excluding both auto sales and gasoline, on a seasonally unadjusted basis, year-over-year sales in January grew by 4.6%, slightly slower than November and December 2010, but nevertheless a healthy rate of growth by most standards.

“Overall, retail spending managed to maintain its momentum following an already-strong holiday season,” said Kamalesh Rao, director of econ