U.S. consumer spending appeared to regain momentum in January as households ramped up purchases of a variety of goods, in a hopeful sign that economic growth was picking up after slowing to a crawl at the end of 2015.
The Commerce Department said on Friday retail sales excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services increased 0.6 percent last month after an unrevised 0.3 percent decline in December.
These so-called core retail sales correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast core retail sales increasing 0.3 percent last month.
Growth in consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of U.S. economic activity, moderated in the fourth quarter. That, together with weak export growth because of a strong dollar, efforts by businesses to sell inventory and cuts in capital goods spending by energy firms, restrained GDP growth to a 0.7 percent annual pace.
Consumer spending is being supported by a strengthening labor market, which is starting to lift wages.
Still, households remain cautious about boosting spending, against the backdrop of an uncertain global economic outlook and a sustained decline in oil prices, which have sparked a broad stock market sell-off.
Overall retail sales rose 0.2 percent in January as cheaper gasoline undercut receipts at service stations and harsh winter weather weighed on spending at restaurants and bars. Retail sales increased by an upwardly revised 0.2 percent in December, up from the previously reported 0.1 percent gain.
Sales at service stations fell 3.1 percent after decreasing 0.5 percent in December. Auto sales advanced 0.6 percent after rising 0.5 percent in December.
Receipts at clothing stores gained 0.2 percent. Sales at online retailers jumped 1.6 percent, but receipts at sporting goods and hobby stores fell 2.1 percent. Sales at electronics and appliance outlets edged up 0.1 percent.
A snowstorm that blanketed much of the northeastern United States last month boosted sales at building materials and garden equipment stores, which rose 0.6 percent. But receipts at restaurants and bars fell 0.5 percent, the largest drop since January 2014.
Nigeria’s Untapped Coffee Sector Holds the Key to $2 Billion Annual Revenue
Amidst declining foreign reserves and the need for alternative revenue streams, Nigeria’s overlooked coffee industry emerges as a potential powerhouse capable of contributing over $2 billion annually to foreign exchange earnings.
Industry experts emphasize the necessity for strategic investments and modernized farming practices to unlock the full economic potential of the coffee sector.
While Nigeria is not among the top 10 coffee producers in Africa, the country’s untapped coffee industry holds the promise of significant financial gains, job creation, and sustainable agricultural development.
The urgency for revitalization comes as Nigeria grapples with a decline in foreign reserves, dropping from $38.25 billion in September 2022 to $33.23 billion in the third quarter of 2023.
Salihu Imam, Chairman of the National Coffee and Tea Association of Nigeria, Oyo State, highlighted the global significance of coffee, stating, “Coffee is the second most traded/valuable of all commodities and first in Agricultural commodities in the world.”
The potential economic impact extends beyond immediate financial gains, with Nigeria positioning itself as a key player in the global coffee trade.
Despite its potential, Nigeria’s coffee exports remain modest, producing less than one million bags annually.
In contrast, Ethiopia, the largest coffee exporter in Africa, is projected to produce 8.25 million bags. Experts suggest that Nigeria, with its unique coffee varieties, could generate $2 billion annually.
Segun Lary-Lean, President of the West Africa Specialty Coffee Association, emphasized the robust global demand for coffee, comparing it to water in Western countries.
He noted the significant earnings of coffee-producing nations like Brazil, Colombia, Vietnam, and Kenya, which experienced a 17% increase in coffee earnings.
In a call to action, industry players urge the Federal Government to prioritize strategic investments, modernized farming practices, and value-added processing to harness the coffee sector’s full economic benefits.
Unlocking the potential of Nigeria’s coffee industry stands not only as a financial opportunity but as a catalyst for broader economic growth and diversification.
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