United States: Retail sales fall in February and January's figure was revised down
March 15, 2016
In February, nominal retail sales fell 0.1% over the previous month. The result, which was slightly better than the 0.2% decrease expected by the markets, followed a 0.4% contraction registered in January, which was revised down from the 0.2% increase previously reported. Retail sales are a good indicator of the evolution of consumer spending, a key part of economic growth in the United States, as it accounts for over two thirds of overall GDP.
February’s decrease stemmed from a pullback in vehicle-related sales (-0.2% month-on-month), as well as from lower sales at gasoline stations (-4.4% mom).
Retail sales, excluding motor vehicles and car parts as well as products sold in gas stations—which is a closely-watched subcategory of the retail trade index—rebounded from a revised 0.1% fall in January (previously reported: +0.4% mom) to a 0.3% increase in February. January’s downward revision likely reflected lower prices for gasoline.
On an annual basis, growth in retail sales edged up from 3.0% in January to 3.1% in February, which marked the fastest growth rate in 13 months. Due to the stronger annual growth, the annual average growth in retail sales inched up from 2.1% in January to 2.2% in February.
Author: Ricardo Aceves, Senior Economist