Commerce, NRF information reveals combined sequential readings and annual features, for February retail gross sales


Retail sales data, issued respectively today by the United States Department of Commerce’s U.S. Census Bureau and the Washington, D.C.-based National Retail Federation (NRF), showed mixed sequential readings and annual gains, for the month of February.

Commerce reported that February retail sales—at $697.9 billion—were off 0.4% compared to January and up 5.4% annually. And it added that total retail sales, from December through February, saw a 6.4% annual gain compared to the same period a year ago.

Looking at specific retail sectors, Commerce stated that retail trade sales were down 0.1%, from January to February, and up 4.0% annually, and general merchandise stores posted a 10.5% annual gain, with food services and drinking places up 15.3%.

NRF reported that its calculation of retail sales, which excludes automobile dealers, gasoline stations, and restaurants, pointed to a 0.5% increase over January and a 6.5% on an unadjusted annual basis.

“Sales growth has slowed in recent months, but consumers’ economic health still looks good,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “February is typically the slowest month of the year, so monthly fluctuations are expected. Sales are higher than last year and that’s due in large part to the strong labor market, which means more income and spending. We are seeing a decent trend for retail sales growth built on the upward revisions to December and January sales. Nonetheless, seasonal adjustment factors the government is applying to the monthly data to account for irregular post-pandemic spending patterns make it difficult to accurately measure the strength of the consumer.”

NRF said that February retail sales, for the categories it tracks, only saw one category, clothing and clothing accessory stores, seeing a decline, with all others seeing gains, including:

  • General merchandise stores were up 0.5% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 10.7% unadjusted year over year;
  • Online and other non-store sales were up 1.6% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 8.5% unadjusted year over year;
  • Health and personal care stores were up 0.9% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 8% unadjusted year over year;
  • Grocery and beverage stores were up 0.5% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 5.5% unadjusted year over year;
  • Clothing and clothing accessory stores were down 0.8% month over month seasonally adjusted but up 4.1% unadjusted year over year;
  • Sporting goods stores were down 0.5% month over month seasonally adjusted but up 3.4% unadjusted year over year;
  • Building materials and garden supply stores were down 0.1% month over month seasonally adjusted but up 0.7% unadjusted year over year;
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores were down 2.5% month over month seasonally adjusted but up 0.4% unadjusted year over year; and
  • Electronics and appliance stores were up 0.3% month over month seasonally adjusted but down 2.2% unadjusted year over year

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