February retail sales remain strong, but slow due to inflation

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While retail sales in February performed well compared to the same period last year, compared to January sales, the pace was slower. Inflation has driven prices up and there are still supply chain issues due to the effects of the omicron variant of COVID-19, the National Retail Federation explained earlier this month.

“Retail sales data continues to show impressive consumer resilience,” NRF CEO Matthew Shay said in a statement. “Despite everything thrown at them, including inflation, supply chain constraints, market volatility and significant geopolitical events, consumers remain able and willing to spend.

Retailers are nimble and dedicated to serving their customers with great experiences, great products and services at the best possible prices. Our outlook remains constructive, with solid retail sales growth for the whole of 2022 up 6% to 8%. Consumers’ financial health can continue if the current pressures on the economy are moderated by sound policy decisions that do not compound the challenges our economy already faces.

The US Census Bureau said today earlier this month that overall retail sales in February were up 0.3% seasonally adjusted from January and up 17.6% year-on-year.

This was based on a monthly increase of 4.9% in January compared to December – more than a percentage point more than the initial estimate of 3.8% – and on the increase of 14% in January from one year to the next.

Despite occasional month-over-month declines, sales have increased year-over-year in every month since June 2020, according to census data. February was down 1% seasonally adjusted from the revised January figures, but up 13% unadjusted year-over-year. In January, sales rose 5.9% month over month and 9.6% year over year.

NRF figures rose 11.8% unadjusted year-over-year on a three-month moving average in February. By the same calculation, NRF projects that retail sales in 2022 will grow between 6% and 8% to total between $4.86 trillion and $4.95 trillion.

February sales fell in two-thirds of categories on a month-to-month basis, but rose across the board on a year-over-year basis, with year-over-year gains led by clothing and materials stores. construction and online sales.

Key sector specifics include:

  • Clothing and clothing accessories stores rose 1.1% seasonally adjusted month-over-month and 31% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Building material and garden supply stores rose 0.9% seasonally adjusted and 14.9% unadjusted year over year.
  • Online and other non-store sales fell 3.7% seasonally adjusted month-over-month, but rose 13.9% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • General merchandise stores were down 0.2% month-over-month seasonally adjusted, but up 12.6% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Sporting goods stores rose 1.7% seasonally adjusted and 11.6% unadjusted year over year.
  • Health and personal care stores were down 1.8% seasonally adjusted month-over-month, but up 8.7% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Grocery and beverage stores were down 0.5% month-over-month, seasonally adjusted, but up 8% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores were down 1% month-over-month seasonally adjusted, but up 7.4% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Electronics and appliance stores were down 0.6% seasonally adjusted month-over-month, but up 2.6% unadjusted year-over-year.
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