Retail Monitor shows continued sales growth in February

WASHINGTON — Retail sales posted modest gains in February, coming on the heels of strong growth last month, according to the CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor, released this week by the National Retail Federation.

In February, total retail sales, excluding automobiles and gasoline, increased by 1.06% compared with the previous month and by 6.3% compared with the same month last year, according to the Retail Monitor. This marks an improvement from January, which saw a slight decrease of 0.16% month-over- month and an increase of 2.34% year-over-year.

Core retail sales, which exclude restaurants as well as autos and gas, saw a 0.95% increase month over month and a 6.69% increase year over year in February. This also shows improvement from January, where there was a small decrease of 0.04% since December and an increase of 3.24% since January 2023. Furniture and home furnishings stores were up 0.45% month-over-month, but down 1.56% year-over-year.

Adjusting for the leap-year effect in February, the increases in both total and core retail sales soften. Month-over-month increases drop to 0.4% and 0.27%, respectively, while year-over-year increases drop to 2.7% and 2.99%. Additionally, several categories such as furniture, electronics and building supplies experienced slight negative growth when the leap-year day is removed.

Matthew shay - cropped
Matthew Shay

“February retail sales indicate continued momentum from consumers,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “While the future direction of interest rates and inflation remains uncertain, it’s clear that a strong job market and increases in real wages are continuing to support spending.”

The Retail Monitor conducts its analysis using real, anonymized data on credit and debit card purchases gathered by Affinity Solutions.

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