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United States Retail February 2021

United States: Retail sales decline in February

Retail sales dropped 3.0% in month-on-month seasonally-adjusted terms in February, contrasting January’s 7.6% increase and missed analysts’ expectations of a 0.5% dip. The decline was driven by a broad-based fall among most sectors, but sales at electronics and appliances, motor vehicle and parts dealers, and sporting goods stores fell notably in February compared to the previous month.

On an annual basis, retail sales rose 6.3% in February (January: +9.5% yoy). Meanwhile, annual average retail sales growth rose to 1.0% in February (January: +0.8%).

Commenting on February’s print, Katherine Judge, senior economist at CIBC Economics, noted:

“With positive revisions to January’s retail sales data mostly negating the downside miss in the February readings, the impact on Q1 GDP tracking estimates from this data is limited. We look for a rebound in spending in March as weather conditions returned to normal and reopenings continued. As the pandemic continues to fade, spending will increasingly be concentrated on services. Ample fiscal stimulus could help keep spending on goods afloat, and a select-few categories that were damaged by the pandemic should stage a recovery, with grocery stores giving up ground to restaurants over the summer and fall.”

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