On the one hand, "U.S. shoppers pushed retail sales up for a seventh straight month," the Associated Press reports.
On the other hand, "the increase was the weakest showing since June ... [and] economists were expecting a bigger gain because January was the first month that Americans had more money in their paychecks because of a Social Security tax cut."
According to the Census Bureau, sales rose 0.3 percent from December and were up 7.8 percent from January 2010.
Bloomberg News says one reason sales rose less than the 0.5 percent that was expected in January may have been bad weather. It says there was a "drop in demand at building material stores and restaurants that may reflect the influence of harsh winter weather."