American shoppers powered through the winter weather lifting retail sales in February. The gains were only fractional compared to January, but up 2.3% from a year ago, according to the National Retail Federation. This sales data excludes autos, fuel and restaurants.
“Today’s positive retail sales report indicates that the economy is primed for growth,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said in the release. “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.”
February retail sales, released today (March 13) by the U.S. Census Bureau, which include categories such as automobiles, gasoline stations, and restaurants, increased 0.3% seasonally adjusted month-to-month ($472.2 billion).
The Census also reported that retail sales increased 1.5% adjusted year-over-year.
“Despite a long and cold winter, consumers continued to persevere and spend in February,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz noted in the release. “This month’s retail sales data is encouraging and above expectations.
He added that 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,” he said.
Sector sales data compared to February 2013
• Building materials and garden equipment sales increased 3.2%
• Clothing and clothing accessories sales increased 2.4%
• Electronics and appliance sales decreased 2.3%
• Furniture and home furnishing sales were flat
• General merchandise sales decreased 0.9%
• Health and personal care sales increased 5.6%
• Online retail sales increased 6.8%
• Sporting goods, hobby, book and music sales decreased 5.3%