Retail Sales Climb; Fastest Rate in Four Months

Improvements in the U.S. economy bolstered retailers’ February sales, reflecting improved consumer sentiment as it relates to spending. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), retail industry sales (which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) for February 0.6 percent seasonally adjusted from January and 4.2 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

“Retailers have done a commendable job keeping their inventory levels where they need to be, while still offering attractive promotions for those who are eager to spend,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “The big challenge retailers will face in the coming months, however, will be going head to head with high cotton, food, and energy prices.”

“February retail sales are in sync with evidence of the expanding economy,” said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. “While February is typically a slow month for retailers, consumers showed their spending power, though it’s too soon to tell what type of impact the spike in gasoline prices will have on consumers this spring.”

February retail sales released today by the U.S. Commerce Department show total retail sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations, and restaurants) increased 1 percent seasonally adjusted over January and 9.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year. Solid growth in discretionary spending was seen across the board.