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NRF: February retail sales up, ‘economy primed for growth’ Print Email
Written by Jeremy Burns   
Thursday, 13 March 2014 10:49 AM America/New_York

MatthewShay-NRF-WebAmerican consumers powered through the winter weather, lifting retail sales in February. Last month’s retail sales—which exclude automobiles, gas stations and restaurants—increased 0.2% adjusted month-to-month and 2.3% unadjusted year-over-year, according to the National Retail Foundation (NRF).

“Today’s positive retail sales report indicates that the economy is primed for growth,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Retailers and consumers endured the harsh winter and they’re hoping both the natural and man-made obstacles to growth will leave with the snow.

“From new overtime mandates to persistent and political posturing on the minimum wage, retailers continue to face serious headwinds placed on them by policymakers in Washington. For the economy to fully recover, the [Obama] Administration and Congress should quit politicking and focus on growth and job creation.”

Book, music, sporting goods and hobby stores’ sales increased 2.5% seasonally adjusted month-to-month, yet decreased 5.3% unadjusted year-over-year, according to the NRF report.

February retail sales figures released today by the U.S. Census Bureau—which include categories such as automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants—increased 0.3% seasonally adjusted month-to-month ($472.2 billion), outpacing the 0.2% growth forecast by economists polled by Reuters. The Census Bureau also reported that retail sales increased 1.5% adjusted year-over-year.

“Despite a long and cold winter, consumers continued to persevere and spend in February,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “This month’s retail sales data is encouraging and above expectations. However neither the jobs nor retail data reflect the fundamental health of the economy. While the weather continues to play tricks on economic forecasts and figures, we expect much-needed clarity come spring as consumers release pent-up demand.”