NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Retail sales inched up 0.5% in January, beating expectations.

Excluding autos, sales rose 0.6%, boosted by electronic and appliance stores, which grew 1.2%. Sporting goods, hobby and books sales rose 1% and general merchandising stores gained 1.5%.

Clothing and accessories stores saw a 0.3% increase, deteriorating from December's 3% uptick.

But sales tied to the housing sector were weak, with building material and garden suppliers off 1.2% and furniture retailers down 1.4%.

Sales data was originally scheduled to be released on Thursday, but was delayed due to the snow that blanketed Washington.

Looking to Febuary, analysts say the positive trend could be over, due to snowstorms across the country.

"Moreover, the volatility in equity markets may begin to play out in retail sales," Brian Sozzi, analyst at Wall Street Strategies wrote in a note. "Arguably what we have been seeing is a lag effect following the rebound in stocks, 401Ks and, to a lesser extent, jobs since the depths of the recession in the middle of 2009."

Shares of retailers are in the red Friday morning, despite better-than-expected sales. Home improvement retailer Home Depot ( HD) is falling 1.1% to $28.67, while rival Lowe's ( LOW) is dropping 1.5% to $21.84. Ebay ( EBAY) is sinking 1.6% to $21.78 and Sears ( SHLD) is off 1.3% to $89.24.

-- Reported by Jeanine Poggi in New York.

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