February Retail Sales Show Sustained Growth

U.S. retail sales growth through the early part of the year remained solid as February saw year-over-year gains, the National Retail Federation said.

Sales in February were up 2.7% when compared to February of 2018. The figures exclude automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants. The growth in February followed a strong January when year-over-year sales were up 4.8%. January figures have been revised from the original report of a 3.6% increase.

NRF’s figures are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which said that overall February sales – including auto dealers, gas stations and restaurants – were up 2.2% unadjusted year-over-year.

The release of retail sales data for December, January and February has been delayed as the Census Bureau works through a backlog caused by the government shutdown earlier this year. Similarly, the Internal Revenue Service has been slow in issuing refund checks, which traditionally help drive spending in the early months of each year, NRF officials said.

Specifics from key retail sectors during February include:

  • online and other non-store sales were up 10.1% year-over-year
  • general merchandise stores were up 1.1% year-over-year
  • furniture and home furnishings stores were down 2.7% year-over-year
  • electronics and appliance stores were down 3.8% year-over-year