U.S. businesses did not add to their stockpiles for a second straight month in January as total business sales fell by the largest amount in nearly six years.
The Commerce Department says business stockpiles were unchanged following a similar flat reading in December. Sales in January dropped 2 percent. That was the sixth straight monthly sales decline and the biggest monthly drop since sales decreased 2.7 percent in March 2009 during the depths of the last recession.
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While businesses have slowed their stockpiling in the face of falling sales, economists remain optimistic that sales will rebound in coming months. Solid employment growth and falling gas prices should give consumers more money to spend on other items. Rising sales are expected to boost inventory growth.