Census Data Shows Retail Sales Bounced Back In February


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Washington — Data released by the U.S. Census Bureau shows retail sales expanded in February after a strong but flat January.

“Retail sales rebounded in a solid fashion in February, showing the consumer is still spending and pointing to underlying strength in the economy,” says National Retail Federation Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. “These results indicate that the economy is continuing to expand in the first quarter despite tight credit conditions and still-elevated inflation. Jobs gains, wage increases, and continued GDP growth are supporting household spending. Spending on services remains elevated while spending on goods has softened, but both sectors are still growing.”

The Census Bureau reports that overall retail sales in February were up 0.6 percent seasonally adjusted from January and up 1.5 percent unadjusted year over year. That compared with a 1.1 percent month-over-month decrease and no year-over-year change in January.

February’s core retail sales as defined by NRF — based on the Census data but excluding automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants — were up 0.2 percent seasonally adjusted from January and up 5.5 percent unadjusted year over year. Core retail sales were up 3.5 percent unadjusted year over year on a three-month moving average as of February.

CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor, powered by Affinity Solutions, reported that February sales showed continued momentum on the part of consumers. The Retail Monitor found core February retail sales were up 0.95 percent seasonally adjusted from January and up 6.69 percent unadjusted year over year. Those numbers softened, however, to gains of 0.27 percent and 2.99 percent when adjusted for the leap year effect of the extra day in February this year. That compared with a decrease of 0.04 percent month over month and an increase of 3.24 percent year over year in January.