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Retail Sales: Core Sales Beat, Trends Turning Higher Again

March 15, 2023
Bottom Line:   Retail sales fell in line with expectations in February as core sales rose, beating expectations for a modest decline. Vehicle and gasoline sales led the headline decline, but continued robust online sales drove the control group higher. Sales at restaurants and bars were lower after a very strong January, as grocery and beverage store sales were stronger amid harsh winter weather in much of the country. Categories related to housing were particularly weak, though. Home furnishing stores, building and garden stores, and department stores saw notably lower sales. Overall, consumption growth remained robust in the first two months of 2023. While seasonal adjustments skewed the January reading higher, the giveback in February was modest for core categories. Moreover, looking at medium-term trends, we see a slight acceleration in the pace of core sales.
Total US Retail Sales
FELL -0.4%  in February (consensus was -0.4 %), Dec revised up to -0.82% from -1.09%, Jan revised up to +3.22% from 2.96%.  Core Retail Sales(excludes Autos, Parts & Gas) were nearly unchanged,  -0.01% (consensus was -0.2 %). Sales in the Control Group (Core less food services and building supply) ROSE 0.54%  (consensus was -0.3 %).
  • Nonstore (Online)  sales ROSE 1.59%.
  • Restaurants & Bars sales FELL -2.16%.
  • Food & Beverage Stores sales ROSE 0.49%
  • Gas Stations sales FELL -0.58%.
  • General Merchandise Stores sales ROSE 0.55%.
  • Building & Garden Supply sales were nearly unchanged,  -0.11%.
  • Health & Personal sales ROSE 0.9%.
  • Clothing Stores sales FELL -0.8%.
Article by Contingent Macro