Market Overview

February Retail Sales Increase 4.4 Percent Over Last Year


February retail sales increased 0.3 percent seasonally adjusted over
January and 4.4 percent year-over-year as the economy continued to grow,
the National Retail Federation said today. The numbers exclude
automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants.

"Consumers are still in the driver's seat," NRF Chief Economist Jack
Kleinhenz said. "Month-to-month comparisons don't tell the whole story
because of seasonal adjustment factors, but the three-month moving
average and other year-over-year numbers are better indicators that
reflect how sales are really increasing. It's still too early to draw
conclusions about the impact of tax cuts but extra money in shoppers'
pockets should help as the year goes forward. With consumer confidence
and employment growing, economic fundamentals are favorable for spending
to expand in the coming months."

The three-month moving average was also up 4.4 percent over the same
period a year ago, and the results come as NRF is forecasting that 2018
retail sales will grow between 3.8 percent and 4.4 percent
over 2017.

The February numbers won back a slight monthly dip seen in January,
which declined 0.2 percent from December coming off one of the best
holiday seasons in years but was up 5.4 percent year-over-year.

NRF's numbers are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which said
overall February sales – including automobiles, gasoline and restaurants
– were down 0.1 percent seasonally adjusted from January but up 4
percent year-over-year.

Specifics from key retail sectors during February include:

  • Online and other non-store sales were up 10.5 percent year-over-year
    and up 1 percent over January seasonally adjusted.
  • Clothing and clothing accessory stores were up 5.2 percent
    year-over-year and up 0.4 percent from January seasonally adjusted.
  • Building materials and garden supply stores were up 5.1 percent
    year-over-year and up 1.9 percent from January seasonally adjusted.
  • Electronics and appliance stores were up 4.3 percent year-over-year
    but down 0.1 percent from January seasonally adjusted.
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores were up 2.9 percent
    year-over-year but down 0.8 percent from January seasonally adjusted.
  • General merchandise stores were up 2.4 percent year-over-year but down
    0.4 percent from January seasonally adjusted.
  • Health and personal care stores were up 0.3 percent year-over-year but
    down 0.4 percent from January seasonally adjusted.
  • Sporting goods stores were down 3.4 percent year-over-year but up 2.2
    percent from January seasonally adjusted.

About NRF

NRF is the world's largest retail trade association, representing
discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main
Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and Internet
retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. Retail is
the nation's largest private-sector employer, supporting one in four
U.S. jobs – 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.6 trillion to
annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation's economy.


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