By and  on February 15, 2011

WASHINGTON — Retail sales in January were driven by gains at department and general merchandise stores, while specialty store sales fell as younger consumers, hampered by severe winter storms and high unemployment, held back on picking up postholiday bargains, according to economists.

Department store sales rose a seasonally adjusted 0.5 percent last month compared with December to $15.5 billion, while sales at general merchandise stores, a category that includes discounters and department stores, increased 0.8 percent to $51.7 billion, the U.S. Commerce Department said Tuesday.

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