February Retail Sales Increase 4.4% YoY
February retail sales increased 0.3 percent seasonally adjusted over January and 4.4 percent year-over-year as the economy continued to grow, the National Retail Federation (NRF) said today. The numbers exclude automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants. The three-month moving average was also up 4.4 percent over the same period a year ago, and the results come as NRF is forecasting that 2018 retail sales will grow between 3.8 percent and 4.4 percent over 2017.
Total Retail's Take: The momentum generated during the 2017 holiday season has carried into the first quarter of 2018, according to these retail sales numbers released today by the NRF. Certain retail sectors, including apparel and accessories, building materials and garden supply, and electronics and appliances, helped drive the sales gain, posting year-over-year increases of 5.2 percent, 5.1 percent, and 4.3 percent, respectively.
"Retail sales spiked in February compared to the previous year in large part to continued momentum in consumer confidence and overall economic strength, particularly in the labor markets," says Naveen Jagi, president of retail, JLL, an investment management company. "Additionally, unseasonably warm weather payed a role in propelling shoppers out to the stores. Eight states had a record warm month with an additional 15 states having a top-10 month in terms of warmer temperatures, according to NOAA. In fact, the entire eastern seaboard — which houses major population centers — saw every state with at least a top 10 warmer-than-average February. Looking ahead to March, we expect the sales momentum to continue as Easter-related purchases will be a major driver in the back-half of the month."