MARCH 19, 2010
February Retail Sales Increase Despite Bad Weather
Retail sales increased 0.3 percent in February despite severe winter weather that crippled several areas of the country. Sales growth was relatively broad with 10 of the 13 industry sectors tracked experiencing improvement. Sectors that are usually heavily affected by bad weather, such as restaurants and building supply stores, actually posted gains during the month.
February’s gain was the fourth in five months, a welcome development given that consumer spending was not projected to contribute heavily to the economic recovery.
Despite the sales improvement, there are some reasons for concern. January’s gain was revised downward from 0.5 percent to 0.1 percent. Some economists believe February’s figures also could be revised downward once a larger sampling of retailers is surveyed. Two more areas of concern are the labor market, which is still sluggish, and consumers’ household budgets, which are still tight. This will dampen consumer spending until the labor market improves.