The Census Bureau reports that retail sales rose 0.3% in February. Accounting for inflation, retail sales declined by -0.5%.
Why it matters: If we average January and February data that puts retail sales growing a little less than 2% in inflation-adjusted terms. This suggests consumers are in a strong position, and are continuing to spend, even as inflation and the war in Ukraine heighten uncertainty and roil markets.
By the numbers:
- Sales were up at motor vehicles and parts dealers (0.8%), building material and garden supply stores (0.9%), gas stations (5.3%), clothing and accessory stores (1.1%), sporting goods and hobby stores (1.7%), miscellaneous stores (1.9%), and food and drinking places (2.5%).
- They were down at furniture stores (-1%), electronics and appliance stores (-0.6%), food and beverage stores (-0.5%), health and personal care stores (-1.8%), general merchandise stores (-0.2%), and non-store retailers (-3.7%).
Be smart: Consumers still have ample savings to spend down, and wages continue to grow strongly, even if they aren’t keeping up with price increases (especially gas prices). These factors should support continued spending growth.
- But inflation will weigh that growth down. For instance, a likely further rise in inflation in March means we could see retail sales grow this month but at a pace below the rise in prices.
—Curtis Dubay, Senior Economist, U.S. Chamber of Commerce