By Alan Wolf, YSN
The severe winter weather that gripped much of the nation last month took a bite out of February retail sales.
According to the latest tally by the U.S. Census Bureau, sell-through for furniture and home furnishings stores declined 3.8 percent from January to $11 billion, and slipped 1.9 percent for electronics and appliance stores, to $7.8 billion.
Still, the three retail channels fared better than most. February sales sank 5.4 percent from January for online-only and other direct sellers, and total retail sales, excluding restaurants, gas stations, car dealers and auto shops, were down 3.1 percent. What’s more, appliance, furniture and tech dealers were up against tough month-over-month comparisons, given January’s double-digit sales gains.
But year-over-year performance paints a far different picture. For furniture and home furnishings stores, last month’s sales soared 8.9 percent over February 2020, but fell 3.1 percent for CE and appliance sellers. (The sales figures were adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading day differences, but not for price changes, the Census Bureau said.)
“February’s retail sales numbers are a minor speed bump on the road to post-pandemic recovery,” observed Matthew Shay, president/CEO of the National Retail Federation (NRF), the world’s largest retail trade association. Shay believes the weather-related slowdown was not reflective of consumers’ willingness and ability to spend, and that increased COVID vaccinations, federal stimulus payouts and easing health restrictions all bode well for the economy.
AVB resident economist Joe Higgins saw more good news in the Census Bureau’s upward revision of total January sales and last month’s 3.6 percent increase in gas station business. “As America begins to normalize, more consumers are on the roads,” he said in a Higgins Flash Report.
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