NRF: Retail sales inch up in February

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NRF: Retail sales inch up in February

By Marianne Wilson - 03/14/2018
February retail sales inched up 0.3% seasonally adjusted over January and 4.4% year-over-year as the economy continued to grow, according to the National Retail Federation. The NRF numbers exclude automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants.

NRF’s figures are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which said overall February sales – including automobiles, gasoline and restaurants – were down 0.1% seasonally adjusted from January but up 4% year-over-year. It was the third consecutive month that overall sales have declined. Economists had forecast retail sales rising 0.3% in February.

“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,” said NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz. “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 up 4.4% over the same period a year ago. The results come as NRF is forecasting that 2018 retail sales will grow between 3.8% and 4.4% over 2017.

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

Specifics from key retail sectors during February include:

• Online and other non-store sales were up 10.5% year-over-year and up 1% over January seasonally adjusted.

• Clothing and clothing accessory stores were up 5.2% year-over-year and up 0.4% from January seasonally adjusted.

• Building materials and garden supply stores were up 5.1% year-over-year and up 1.9% from January seasonally adjusted.

• Electronics and appliance stores were up 4.3% year-over-year but down 0.1% from January seasonally adjusted.

• Furniture and home furnishings stores were up 2.9% year-over-year but down 0.8% from January seasonally adjusted.

• General merchandise stores were up 2.4% year-over-year but down 0.4% from January seasonally adjusted.

• Health and personal care stores were up 0.3 percent year-over-year but down 0.4% from January seasonally adjusted.

• Sporting goods stores were down 3.4% year-over-year but up 2.2% from January seasonally adjusted.

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