February retail sales are mildly mixed, reports Commerce and NRF

Commerce reported that February retail sales dipped 0.1% from January to February at $492.0 billion, while seeing a 4.0% annual gain. NRF reported that its retail sales data, which excludes automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants, saw a 0.3% seasonally adjusted gain from January to February and a 4.4% annual gain.

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United States retail sales in February were mildly mixed, according to data issued today by the Department of Commerce and the National Retail Federation (NRF).

Commerce reported that February retail sales dipped 0.1% from January to February at $492.0 billion, while seeing a 4.0% annual gain. And total sales from December 2017 through February saw a 4.3% annual gain compared to the same period a year ago.

In February, Commerce’s data showed a 10.1% annual gain for non-store retailers, which also covers e-commerce activity, and gasoline station sales were up 7.9%. Furniture and home furnishing sales were up 3.3% annually, and electronics and appliances sales rose 4.5%. General merchandise stores sales, which include department stores, were off 0.4%.

This marks the third straight month Commerce has reported a sequential decline in monthly retail sales.

NRF reported that its retail sales data, which excludes automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants, saw a 0.3% seasonally adjusted gain from January to February and a 4.4% annual gain.

NRF’s three-month moving average rose 4.4% annually, and the organization recently issued a forecast calling for a 3.8-4.4% annual increase for retail sales in 2018.

“Consumers are still in the driver’s seat,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said in a statement. “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.”

Some individual sector readings from the NRF included:
-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 December seasonally adjusted; and
-Sporting goods stores were down 3.4 percent year-over-year but up 2.2 percent from January seasonally adjusted


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