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March 12, 2024

Retail Monitor Reports Consumer Spending Remains Potent

Posted In: Retail Articles

Retail sales continued to grow in February, building off solid gains from January and driven by improved consumer finances, according to the CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor.

The Retail Monitor calculation of core retail sales — excluding restaurants, auto dealerships and gas — advanced 0.95% month over month from January and 6.69% year over year. In January, core retail sales decreased 0.04% month over month from December but increased 3.24% year over year.

February total retail sales, excluding automobiles and gasoline but not restaurants, advanced 1.06% seasonally adjusted month over month and up 6.3% unadjusted year over year from January, Retail Monitor reported. In January, total retail sales decreased 0.16% month over month but increased 2.34% year over year.

With further seasonalization to remove the leap-year effect of a 29th day in February from the calculations, total adjusted retail sales month over month slipped from an increase of 1.06% to an increase of 0.4%, Retail Monitor maintained. Core retail sales also softened from an increase of 0.95% to an increase of 0.27%. Unadjusted year-over-year increases in the total and core retail measures dropped to 2.7% and 2.99%, respectively, from 6.3% and 6.69%. At the sales channel level, several segments dropped to negative for month-over-month and year-over-year activity when the extra February day is considered, including furniture, electronics and building supplies.

By segment, the February core retail results were:

  • General merchandise stores were up 0.67% month over month seasonally adjusted and 3.34% year over year unadjusted.
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores were up 0.45% month over month seasonally adjusted and down 1.56% year over year unadjusted.
  • Building and garden supply stores were up 0.01% month over month and 2.84% year over year unadjusted.
  • Electronics and appliance stores were up 0.76% month over month, seasonally adjusted, and 1.12% year over year unadjusted.
  • Health and personal care stores were up 0.96% month over month, seasonally adjusted, and 11.18% year over year unadjusted.
  • Grocery and beverage stores were up 0.99% month over month, seasonally adjusted, and 5.29% year over year unadjusted.
  • Sporting goods, hobby, music and bookstores were up 2.29% month over month seasonally adjusted and 13.67% year over year unadjusted.
  • Clothing and accessories stores were up 0.51% month over month seasonally adjusted and 8.05% year over year unadjusted.
  • Online and other non-store sales were up 0.8% month over month seasonally adjusted and 18.08% year over year unadjusted.

Retail Monitor has supplied sales data every month since its launch in November. Unlike survey-based numbers collected and distributed by the United States Census Bureau, Retail Monitor uses actual, anonymized credit and debit card purchase data compiled by Affinity Solutions that does not need to be revised monthly or annually.

“February retail sales indicate continued momentum from consumers,” Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation, co-sponsor of the Retail Monitor. “While the future direction of interest rates and inflation remains uncertain, it’s clear that a strong job market and increases in real wages are continuing to support spending.”

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