Washington, March 11, 2011 – Improvements in the U.S. economy bolstered retailer’s February sales, reflecting improved consumer sentiment as it relates to spending.
According to the National Retail Federation, retail industry sales (which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) for February 0.6 percent seasonally adjusted from January and 4.2 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
“Retailers have done a commendable job keeping their inventory levels where they need to be, while still offering attractive promotions for those who are eager to spend,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “The big challenge retailers will face in the coming months, however, will be going head to head with high cotton, food and energy prices.”
“February retail sales are in sync with evidence of the expanding economy,” said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. “While February is typically a slow month for retailers, consumers showed their spending power, though it’s too soon to tell what type of impact the spike in gasoline prices will have on consumers this spring.”
February retail sales released today by the U.S. Commerce Department show total retail sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations and restaurants) increased 1.0 percent seasonally adjusted over January and 9.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
Clothing and clothing accessory stores sales increased 0.8 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and a strong 4.4 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores sales increased 1.3 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 5.2 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
Solid growth in discretionary spending was seen across the board. Sales at building material, garden equipment and supplies dealers, a sector hit hard by the collapsed housing market, rose 0.6 percent seasonally adjusted from January and 9.6 percent unadjusted over last year.
Sales at health and personal care stores slowed from the previous month, decreasing 0.3 percent adjusted from January, but grew 5.2 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
The opposite is true for electronics and appliance stores whose sales increased 0.9 percent seasonally adjusted from the previous month but decreased 1.7 percent unadjusted over last year.
Department stores also showed strength with a gain of 1.0 percent over January, but a decline of 1.4 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
As the world's largest retail trade association, NRF has the unique ability to represent the full breadth and scope of the retail industry. NRF's global membership includes retailers of all sizes, formats and channels of distribution including department stores, discount retailers, grocers, chain restaurants and drug stores. Membership also includes industry partners from the United States and more than 45 countries abroad.
In the United States, NRF represents the breadth and diversity of an industry with more than 1.6 million American companies that employ nearly 25 million workers and generated 2010 sales of $2.4 trillion. www.nrf.com