US Retail Sales Miss Forecasts After Steep Drop in Prior Month

US retail sales rose by less than forecast after a steep drop to start the year, underscoring concerns about the durability of consumer spending.

The value of retail purchases, unadjusted for inflation, increased 0.6% from January after a downward revision to the prior month, Commerce Department data showed Thursday. Excluding cars, sales advanced 0.3%.

US Retail Sales Miss Forecasts, Bloomberg

Eight out of 13 categories posted increases, led by building material stores and auto dealers, which rose by the most since May. Spending fell at furniture outlets, as well as stores for health and personal care, clothing and e-commerce.

So-called control-group sales — which are used to calculate gross domestic product — were unchanged in February after falling in the prior month. The measure — which excludes food services, auto dealers, building materials stores and gasoline stations — suggests weaker economic activity so far in the first quarter.

Under the surface, Thursday’s report points to a consumer that’s growing more discerning as the labor market starts to cool somewhat, credit access becomes more limited and higher prices continue to bite.