The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for February, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $370.5 billion, an increase of 0.1 percent (±0.7%)* from the previous month and up 3.2 percent (±0.7%) from February 2006. Total sales for the December 2006 through February 2007 were up 3.7 percent (±0.5%) from the same period a year ago. The December 2006 to January 2007 percent change was unrevised from 0.0 percent (± 0.3%)*.
Retail trade sales were up 0.2 percent (±0.7%)* from January 2007 and were 3.1 percent (±0.8%) above last year. Nonstore retailers were up 9.1 percent (±4.5%) from February 2006 and sales of health and personal care stores were up 6.1 percent (±1.7%) from last year.
Bloomberg adds more:
Retail sales in the U.S. rose less than forecast last month as an increase in gasoline prices limited spending on other goods.
The 0.1 percent gain followed no change in the prior month, the Commerce Department said today in Washington. Sales excluding service-station receipts were unchanged as the return of colder weather discouraged shoppers.
The figures point to a gradual slowdown in consumer spending that Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke called a ``mainstay'' of the expansion. Fewer purchases, combined with the downturns in housing and manufacturing, make it less likely that growth will accelerate in coming months.
``Once we disentangle the effect of higher gasoline prices on service-station receipts, we see a modest amount of consumer spending,'' Ken Mayland, president of ClearView Economics LLC in Pepper Pike, Ohio, said before the report. ``It appears consumer spending is something short of healthy.''
Are consumers finally starting to slow down their continual appetite for new stuff?