Economic Forecasts

February Retail Sales and Revisions: Better than Last February

The February Retail Report was finally released. The Government Shutdown Shutdown the Release of Some Economic Data.

The monthly retail report has not been received very well. December we had a record December and a Record year, non-seasonally adjusted, and it was reported as lackluster. It was so good that two articles were needed to cover the data.  January was the best January Retail month ever. It was projected that we could see non-seasonally adjusted growth of 3-8%, probably close to 5%, February to February. It was projected that we could see the  seasonally adjusted data could grow 4% to 6% February to February. Month to month the non-seasonally adjusted (NSA) data was expected to drop and the seasonally adjusted (SA) data was expected to rise, just not in all sectors. What was recorded NSA and what was reported SA?

The Headline Month to month Seasonally Adjusted Growth was Negative. Should it have been positive? The headline data was that the SA MARTS data for January was $506.977 billion and February was $505.969 billion. This decline of 0.2% was unexpected by most. What may have been missed by some is that the January data was revised up $2.5 billion.  This turned month to month growth in total sales into month to month, seasonally adjusted drop in total sales. It is important to note that Furniture Sales, Electronic Appliance (EAS)  sales, Building Material/Garden Equipment (BMGE) sales, all directly related to new and existing home sales, saw month to month declines.

Rolling year sales, total sales for the past 12 months, grew at the fastest rate during February since February 2012, growing at 4.65%.

The Seasonally adjusted February to February data reported gains of 2.28%. The largest gains were in Motor Vehicle Sales (MVP,) Food and Beverage Stores (FBS,) Health and Personal Care (HPC,) Clothing, General Merchandise (GM,) Non-Store Retail (NSR,) and Food and Drinking Places (FDP.) Data tables here.

The true , non-seasonally adjusted data recorded a drop month to month, as expected. The month to month drop was 2.7%., from 459.480 billion to 446.952 billion or 15.58 billion. Once again there were revisions to the data that boosted the January data. December was revised up by 448 million dollars while January was revised up by 3.054 billion dollars. All categories other than Clothing sales and MVP sales declined month to month.

February to February non-seasonally adjusted growth came in at 2.16% Once again there was weakness, declines, in same month sales for Furniture and electronic and appliance sales. We did see growth in BMGE sales,MVP sales, NSR and FDP sales.

Gasoline sales were done month to month an February to February, non-seasonally adjusted. We might have heard stories of a “Gasoline Stimulus” is people were not reporting how gasoline prices have been rising this month. Are we driving less or getting better gas mileage per gallon?

We set February record for almost all categories. The main categories that did not set record highs were gasoline sales, Electronics and Appliance (EAS) Sales, and Sporting Goods, Hobbies, Books, and Music (SGHBM) sales.  EAS and SGHBM sales, as well as clothing and virtually everything else, may be shifting to the Internet and NSR. The February Rolling year growth rate was the best for February since 2012, coming in at 4.65% non-seasonally adjusted.  It appears that the Government Shutdown may have shutdown some retail sales activity.  It may have been delayed rather than denied. We are still on pace for another record year.

It’s the Economy.


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