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Feb. Retail Sales are In and They’re Up

Though February retail sales declined 0.7 percent seasonally adjusted from January, February sales increased 2.7 percent year-over-year, according to the National Retail Federation.

The numbers exclude sales from automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants.

“The weaker-than-expected February retail sales numbers reflect colder weather and increased precipitation that kept shoppers home but were also skewed downward because of the government’s upward revision in January’s results,” says Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist, NRF. “The aftereffects of the erratic stock market, the government shutdown and slower tax refunds this year also likely played a role. It is important to look beyond the February figures and focus on the very significant revision to January retail sales, which shows that the consumer has not forsaken the economy as some previously claimed. We still expect growth to pick up, fueled by strong fundamentals like job and wage growth that are driving increased consumer spending. The consumer will continue to provide direction and strength to the U.S. economy in the months ahead.”

As of February, the three-month moving average rose 2.2 percent over the same period a year ago, and January sales were up 1.9 percent monthly and 4.4 percent year-over-year, the NRF reports. The NRF forecasts that 2019 retail sales will increase between 3.8 percent and 4.4 percent to more than 3.8 trillion.

Key retail sector specifics during February include:

  • Online and other non-store sales climbed 10.1 percent year-over-year and 0.9 percent month-over-month seasonally adjusted;
  • Health and personal care stores sales increased 5.7 percent year-over-year and 0.6 percent month-over-month seasonally adjusted;
  • Grocery and beverage stores sales rose 1.9 percent year-over-year but declined 1.2 percent month-over-month seasonally adjusted;
  • Building materials and garden supply stores sales rose 1.5 percent year-over-year but declined 4.4 month-over-month seasonally adjusted;
  • General merchandise stores sales climbed 1.1 percent year-over-year but declined 0.3 percent month-over-month seasonally adjusted;
  • Clothing and clothing accessory stores sales declined 0.5 percent year-over-year and 0.4 percent month-over-month seasonally adjusted;
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores sales were down 2.7 percent year-over-year and down 0.5 percent month-over-month seasonally adjusted;
  • Electronics and appliance stores sales declined 3.8 percent year-over-year and 1.3 percent month-over-month seasonally adjusted and
  • Sporting goods stores declined 8.2 percent year-over-year but rose 0.5 percent month-over-month seasonally adjusted.

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