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Retail Sales: Positive Revisions Boost Post-Holiday Spending Data

March 15, 2017
Bottom Line: With another month of strong upward revisions to prior data core retail sales over the critical December to February period were up 6% annualized over the prior 3 months. February's gains were modest with electronics and appliance retailers seeing declines, but revisions to January data suggest nearly all segments grew in January. Building materials and garden supply stores continued to see strong gains, as did online retailers. Core Sales ex-gasoline stations and ex-building materials during January and February were modestly above their Q4 averages, suggesting that real consumer spending will continue to add positively to Q1 GDP.

Retail Sales ROSE by 0.1% in February, compared with the market consensus for an increase of 0.1%. The January estimate was revised from 0.4% to 0.6%. Retail sales are now 5.7% ABOVE their year ago level; just a year ago, the year over year growth rate was 3.5%. Spending at motor vehicle dealers fell by 0.2%.

Core Retail Sales ROSE by 0.2%, compared with the market consensus for an increase 0.1%. The January estimate was revised from 0.8% to 1.2%. Core retail sales are now 5.7% ABOVE their year ago level; just a year ago, the year over year growth rate was 2.5%.

In February, gains at non-store retailers (+1.2%), building materials (+1.8%), health and personal care (+0.7%), furniture & home furnishing (+0.7%). were partially offset by declines in gasoline stations, primarily due to low gasoline prices (-0.6%), electronic and appliance stores (-2.8%), general merchandise stores (-0.2%), and clothing stores (-0.5%).

Core Retail Sales ex Gasoline ROSE by 0.2% and are now 4.4% ABOVE their year ago level; just a year ago, the year over year growth rate was a moderate 4.6%.