"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."Jack Kleinhenz
NRF Chief Economist
WASHINGTON – 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.
The National Retail Federation is the world’s largest retail trade association. Based in Washington, D.C., NRF represents 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. NRF.com