Retail Sales Rose 4.0% YOY in February

Retail Sales Rose 4.0% YOY in February

NRF's numbers are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which said overall February sales - including automobiles, gasoline and restaurants - were down 0.1 percent seasonally adjusted from January but up 4 percent year-over-year.

The drop was unexpected in part because many Americans' tax withholdings dropped in early February due to a $1.5 trillion tax break signed into law late a year ago.

The results indicate consumer spending, the biggest part of the economy, is easing after rising at a 3.8% annualized pace in the fourth quarter, the fastest in more than a year.

Sales for existing homes grew by 2.6 percent in 2017 from 2016, according to the National Association of Realtors, continuing an upward trend since 2009. Excluding vehicles and fuel, sales rose by 0.3 per cent. However, the result was still 4% higher compared with result of past year. It's still too early to draw conclusions about the impact of tax cuts but extra money in shoppers' pockets should help as the year goes forward. He also noted that federal income tax filing season for 2017 had a relatively late start, so people may be spending any refunds later in the year.

Also, consumers who boosted spending last fall to fix and replace property damaged by hurricanes in the South may have temporarily cut back since then.

Sales at gasoline stations declined 1.2% during February after growing 1.9% in January.

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. There were other factors last month that made this year better for retailers.

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.