Decline in United States retail sales confounds analysts after tax cuts

February furniture store sales lag broad retail sector

Retail Sales Inch Lower For Third Month

Home improvement spending has increased significantly over the past year.

The three-month moving average of retail sales growth is +4.4% Y/Y, notes the NRF.

Retail sales, excluding motor vehicle and parts, fell 0.1% in February and rose 4.2% from February a year ago, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce's monthly report, released Wednesday. The poor retail sales readings have confounded several reports showing that consumer confidence is soaring and are likely to weigh on first quarter growth.

Consumer spending, which accounts for two-thirds of US economic activities, slowed down in the first two months of 2018 after a booming quarter at the end of 2017. Sales at nonstore retailers grew 1.0% following January's 0.9% decrease.

Economists estimate the economy is growing at a roughly 2% pace in the first quarter, down slightly from the fourth quarter and below the roughly 3% pace registered in the middle of past year.

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"Month-to-month trends are really hard to interpret, because seasonal factors can cause biases".

The February numbers won back a slight monthly dip seen in January, which declined 0.2 percent from December coming off one of the best holiday seasons in years but was up 5.4 percent year-over-year. "People are in the process of renovating their homes".

By category: furniture sales fell 0.8% from January and rose 3.3% year over year; electronics and appliance sales fell 0.1% from January and rose 4.5% year over year; department store sales fell 0.9% from January and were flat year over year; and apparel sales rose 0.4% from January and 4.9% year over year.

United States retail sales in February were mildly mixed, according to data issued today by the Department of Commerce and the National Retail Federation (NRF).

Online and other non-store sales were up 10.5 percent year-over-year and up 1 percent over January seasonally adjusted.

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