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February CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor Numbers Show Consumers Continued Spending

Retail sales continued to grow in February, building off solid gains from January, according to the CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor, powered by Affinity Solutions, released by the National Retail Federation. Click here to access February’s retail data.

Total retail sales, excluding automobiles and gasoline, were up 1.06% seasonally adjusted month over month and up 6.3% unadjusted year over year in February, according to the Retail Monitor. That compared with a decrease of 0.16% month over month and an increase of 2.34% year over year in January.

The Retail Monitor calculation of core retail sales—excluding restaurants in addition to autos and gas—was up 0.95% month over month and up 6.69% year over year in February. That compared with a decrease of 0.04% month over month and an increase of 3.24% year over year in January.

For additional context, when further seasonalization is applied to remove the leap-year effect of a 29th day in February from the calculations, total adjusted retail sales month over month soften from an increase of 1.06% to an increase of 0.4%. Core retail sales also soften from an increase of 0.95% to an increase of 0.27%. Similarly, when looking at unadjusted year-over-year numbers, increases in the total and core retail measures drop to 2.7% and 2.99% respectively, from 6.3% and 6.69%. There was an effect at the sectoral level as well, as several categories dropped to negative for month over month and year over year, including furniture, electronics and building supplies.

- Digital Partner -

“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.”

This is the fifth month that the Retail Monitor, which was launched in November, has provided data on monthly retail sales. Unlike survey-based numbers collected by the Census Bureau, the Retail Monitor uses actual, anonymized credit and debit card purchase data compiled by Affinity Solutions and does not need to be revised monthly or annually.

February sales were up in all but one of nine retail categories on a yearly basis, led by online sales, sporting goods stores and health and personal care stores, and up across the board on a monthly basis. Specifics from key sectors include:

  • Online and other non-store sales were up 0.8% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 18.08% year over year unadjusted.
  • Sporting goods, hobby, music and book stores were up 2.29% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 13.67% year over year unadjusted.
  • Health and personal care stores were up 0.96% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 11.18% year over year unadjusted.
  • Clothing and accessories stores were up 0.51% month over month and up 8.05% year over year unadjusted.
  • Grocery and beverage stores were up 0.99% month over month and up 5.29% year over year unadjusted.
  • General merchandise stores were up 0.67% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 3.34% year over year unadjusted.
  • Building and garden supply stores were up 0.01% month over month and up 2.84% year over year unadjusted.
  • Electronics and appliance stores were up 0.76% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 1.12% year over year unadjusted.
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores were up 0.45% month over month seasonally adjusted but down 1.56% year over year unadjusted.

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