Skip to main content

NRF: E-commerce spurs sales growth in February

Online sales
Retail sales were up in February.

So far, 2024 is off to a good start for retailers.

Retail sales built off "solid gains from January" in February 2024, aided by exceptionally strong e-commerce performance, according to the CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor, powered by Affinity Solutions, released Tuesday by the National Retail Federation.

Total retail sales, excluding automobiles and gasoline, were up 1.06% seasonally adjusted month-over-month and up 6.3% unadjusted year-over-year in February 2024, including a roughly 18% year-over-year growth in online and non-store sales, according to the Retail Monitor. That compared with a decrease of 0.16% month-over-month and an increase of 2.34% year-over-year in January 2024.

The Retail Monitor calculation of core retail sales — excluding restaurants in addition to autos and gas — was up 0.95% month-over-month and up 6.69% year-over-year in February. That compared with a decrease of 0.04% month-over-month and an increase of 3.24% year-over-year in January.

When further seasonalization is applied to remove the leap-year effect of a 29th day in February from the calculations, Retail Monitor data shows total adjusted retail sales month-over-month soften from an increase of 1.06% to an increase of 0.4%. Core retail sales also soften from an increase of 0.95% to an increase of 0.27%. 

Similarly, when looking at unadjusted year-over-year numbers, increases in the total and core retail measures drop to 2.7% and 2.99% respectively, from 6.3% and 6.69%. 

Several categories dropped to negative for month-over-month and year-over-year, sales comparisons, including furniture, electronics and building supplies.

"February retail sales indicate continued momentum from consumers,” NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said. “While the future direction of interest rates and inflation remains uncertain, it’s clear that a strong job market and increases in real wages are continuing to support spending."

February sales were up in all but one of nine retail categories on a yearly basis, led by online sales, sporting goods stores and health and personal care stores, and up across the board on a monthly basis.

Specifics from key sectors include:

  • Online and other non-store sales were up 0.8% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 18.08% year-over-year unadjusted.
  • Sporting goods, hobby, music and book stores were up 2.29% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 13.67% year-over-year unadjusted.
  • Health and personal care stores were up 0.96% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 11.18% year-over-year unadjusted.
  • Clothing and accessories stores were up 0.51% month-over-month and up 8.05% year-over-year unadjusted.
  • Grocery and beverage stores were up 0.99% month-over-month and up 5.29% year-over-year unadjusted.
  • General merchandise stores were up 0.67% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 3.34% year-over-year unadjusted.
  • Building and garden supply stores were up 0.01% month-over-month and up 2.84% year-over-year unadjusted.
  • Electronics and appliance stores were up 0.76% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 1.12% year-over-year unadjusted.
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores were up 0.45% month-over-month seasonally adjusted but down 1.56% year-over-year unadjusted.

This is the fifth month that the Retail Monitor, which was launched in November 2023, has provided data on monthly retail sales. Unlike survey-based numbers collected by the Census Bureau, the Retail Monitor uses actual, anonymized credit and debit card purchase data compiled by Affinity Solutions and does not need to be revised monthly or annually.

This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds