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Economy in Brief

U.S. Retail Spending Is Strong
by Tom Moeller  March 13, 2013

The consumer regained the inclination to spend last month. February retail sales increased 1.1% (4.6% y/y) following a 0.2% January uptick, earlier reported as 0.1%. The latest rise exceeded expectations for a 0.5% gain, according to Action Economics. Retail sales excluding autos rose 1.0% after a revised 0.4% January rise, previously reported as 0.2%. A 0.5% increase was expected.

Leading last month's sales increase was a 5.0% (3.6% y/y) jump in purchases at gasoline service stations as regular gas prices rose to an average $3.67 per gallon from $3.32 in January. Also pulling up sales was a 1.1% rise (7.8% y/y) in sales of motor vehicles & parts. Finally, building material sales jumped 1.1% (4.5% y/y). Spending outside of these areas is a measure used in calculating gross domestic product and sales rose 0.4% (3.8% y/y). Three-month growth in these purchases totaled 4.8% (AR).

Spending at food & beverage stores rose a firm 0.8% (3.6% y/y). Elsewhere, however, sales were less impressive. General merchandise store sales gained 0.5% (-1.6% y/y), only the second rise in the last six months. Sales at clothing & accessory stores inched up 0.2% 3.1% y/y), the weakest rise in the last four months. To the downside last month were sales at furniture & home furnishing stores which fell 1.6% (+1.65 y/y). Also sales at electronics & appliance stores were off 0.2% (+0.5% y/y), the third consecutive monthly slip.

The retail sales figure are available in Haver's USECON database. The Action Economics figures are in the AS1REPNA database. 

 

Retail Spending (%) Feb Jan Dec Feb Y/Y 2012 2011 2010
Total Retail Sales & Food Services 1.1 0.2 0.5 4.6 5.0 8.0 5.5
  Excluding Autos 1.0 0.4 0.3 3.9 4.4 7.4 4.5
  Non-Auto Less Gasoline & Building Supplies 0.4 0.3 0.6 3.8 4.4 6.0 3.5
Retail Sales 1.3 0.3 0.4 4.7 4.8 8.3 5.8
  Motor Vehicle & Parts 1.1 -0.3 1.4 7.8 7.8 10.8 10.8
 Retail excluding Autos 1.3 0.5 0.1 3.9 4.0 7.6 4.7
  Gasoline Stations 5.0 0.7 -1.6 3.6 3.7 17.8 14.7
Food Service & Drinking Places Sales -0.7 -0.6 1.3 4.0 7.1 5.9 3.2
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