February retail sales up despite frigid weather

WASHINGTON — American consumers powered through the winter weather, lifting retail sales in February.

According to the National Retail Federation, retail sales, which exclude automobiles, gas stations and restaurants, increased 0.2 percent adjusted month-to-month and 2.3 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said, “Retailers and consumers endured the harsh winter and they’re hoping both the natural and man-made obstacles to growth will leave with the snow.

However, Shay said challenges persist. “From new overtime mandates to persistent and political posturing on the minimum wage, retailers continue to face serious headwinds placed on them by policymakers in Washington,” he said. “For the economy to fully recover, the Administration and Congress should quit politicking and focus on growth and job creation.”

February retail sales, released by the U.S. Census Bureau, which include categories such as automobiles, gasoline stations, and restaurants, increased 0.3 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month ($472.2 billion). The Census also reported that retail sales increased 1.5 percent adjusted year-over-year.

NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said, “This month’s retail sales data is encouraging and above expectations. However, neither the jobs nor retail data reflect the fundamental health of the economy. While the weather continues to play tricks on economic forecasts and figures, we expect much-needed clarity come spring as consumers release pent-up demand.”

Additional NRF findings from the February retail sales report include:

• Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers stores’ sales increased 0.3 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 3.2 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

• Clothing and clothing accessories stores’ sales increased 0.4 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 2.4 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

• Electronics and appliance stores’ sales decreased 0.2 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 2.3 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

• Furniture and home furnishing stores’ sales increased 0.4 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and unchanged unadjusted year-over-year.

• General merchandise stores’ sales decreased 0.3 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 0.9 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

• Health and personal care stores’ sales increased 1.2 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 5.6 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

• Nonstore retailers’ sales increased 1.2 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 6.8 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

• Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores’ sales increased 2.5 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month yet decreased 5.3 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

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