The Commerce Department said total retail sales increased 0.5 percent after falling by a revised 0.1 percent in December. Sales in December were previously reported to have dropped 0.3 percent.
Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast retail sales increasing 0.3 percent last month. Compared to January last year, sales were up 4.7 percent.
Retail sales are being closely watched for signs whether consumers are healthy enough to sustain the economy's recovery once government stimulus and the boost from restocking by businesses wanes.