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.

Report: Video Game Industry Aids Economy

According to a new study conduced by Economics Incorporated for the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), the entertainment software industry grew more than 10 percent from 2005 to 2009, which is more than seven times the growth rate of the U.S. economy. The study, Video Games in the 21st Century: The 2010 Report, also found that the computer and video game industry added nearly $5 billion to the U.S. economy in 2009.

Additionally, the report found that the computer and video game industry directly employs more than 32,000 people, an increase of nearly 9 percent annually since 2005. California remains the largest employer of computer and video game personnel in the nation, followed by Texas, Washington, New York, Massachusetts, and Illinois.