NRF Chief Economist Remains Positive After Disappointing February
The National Retail Federation (NRF) has reported retail sales for February were down 0.7 percent seasonally adjusted from January to February but were up 2.7 percent in comparison to February 2018. These figures exclude automobile dealers, gas stations, and restaurants.
“The weaker-than-expected February retail sales numbers reflect colder weather and increased precipitation that kept shoppers home but were also skewed downward because of the government’s upward revision in January’s results,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “The aftereffects of the erratic stock market, the government shutdown and slower tax refunds this year also likely played a role."
Though there were a few categories that saw relatively substantial gains, electronics and appliances stores were down both year-over-year (3.8%) and month-over-month seasonally adjusted (1.3%).
On a lighter note, retail sales were revised upwards for January a good bit. Original numbers were reported as a 1.3 increase over December and a 3.6 percent increase year-over-year. Actual numbers looked more like 1.9 percent monthly and 4.8 percent year-over-year.
There’s also a lot to look forward to in the spring. The days are getting longer, the weather is getting warmer, refund checks are making their way in (if they haven’t already), and the government shutdown is falling further and further behind us.
"It is important to look beyond the February figures and focus on the very significant revision to January retail sales, which shows that the consumer has not forsaken the economy as some previously claimed," Kleinhenz added. "We still expect growth to pick up, fueled by strong fundamentals like job and wage growth that are driving increased consumer spending. The consumer will continue to provide direction and strength to the U.S. economy in the months ahead.”