WASHINGTON — Americans increased their spending at gasoline stations and restaurants in January, boosting retail sales even though auto buying fell.

Retail sales rose a seasonally adjusted 0.4 percent, down from a solid 1 percent gain in December, the Commerce Department said Wednesday.

Overall sales pulled back from a December bump in holiday shopping online and at auto dealers. But Americans spent more than normally expected last month at clothiers, department stores, electronics outlets and sporting goods retailers.

The gains point to continued economic growth. But they also indicate that improving consumer sentiment after President Trump’s election, especially optimism among Republicans, has yet to significantly boost retail sales.

“Sales are growing at a decent clip, but the surge in consumers’ confidence since the election is yet to translate into stronger spending,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

Higher gas prices drove a 2.3 percent sales increase at service stations last month. The retail sales report does not adjust its figures for prices.

Purchases at restaurants and bars climbed 1.4 percent. Building materials stores saw a slight 0.3 percent gain.