WASHINGTON-U.S. retail sales reached $407.8 billion in February, 1.1 percent ahead of January and 6.5 percent above retail sales in February 2011, according to this morning’s retail sales report from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Among the channels offering home merchandise, sales at furniture and home furnishings stores dropped 1.2 percent from January to February, but rose 8.3 percent above February of last year. Sales at general-merchandise stores slipped 0.1 percent month to month and increased 2.9 percent year over year. At department stores (excluding leased departments), sales rose 1.5 percent from January to February and were up 0.2 percent from February 2011.
Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the National Retail Federation, noted that consumers took advantage of relatively mild weather in February to get started on outdoor projects and on purchasing warm-weather apparel. “While February sales certainly present continued reason for optimism, retailers are paying close attention to rising gasoline prices, which are forcing millions of our customers to spend a significant portion of disposable income filling their gas tanks,” Shay said.