Retail Sales: February Growth Continues to Improve, As Expected

The Census Bureau's Advance Retail Sales Report for February released this morning showed continued growth improvement over the January increase. Headline sales came in at 0.1% month-over-month to one decimal, and the January number was revised upward from 0.4% to 0.6%. Today's headline number was at the consensus. Core sales (ex Autos) came in at 0.2% MoM, which was also at the consensus and the January Core was revised upward.

Here is the introduction from today's report:

Advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for February 2017, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $474.0 billion, an increase of 0.1 percent (±0.5 percent)* from the previous month, and 5.7 percent (±0.9 percent) above February 2016. Total sales for the December 2016 through February 2017 period were up 5.4 percent (±0.7 percent) from the same period a year ago. The December 2016 to January 2017 percent change was revised from up 0.4 percent (±0.5 percent)* to up 0.6 percent (±0.3 percent).

Retail trade sales were up 0.1 percent (±0.5 percent)* from January 2017, and up 5.9 percent (±0.7 percent) from last year. Gasoline Stations sales were up 19.6 percent (±1.4 percent) from February 2016, while Nonstore Retailers were up 13.0 percent (±1.8 percent) from last year. [view full report]

The chart below is a log-scale snapshot of retail sales since the early 1990s. The two exponential regressions through the data help us to evaluate the long-term trend of this key economic indicator.

Retail Sales Trends

The year-over-year percent change provides another perspective on the historical trend. Here is the headline series.

Retail Sales YoY

Core Sales

Here is the year-over-year version of Core Retail Sales.

Core Retail Sales YoY