This morning, the U.S. Census Bureau announced that Retail Sales for February were up 0.3% from January and 3.9% from February 2009. Total sales for the December 2009 to February 2010 period were up 4.5% from the same period a year ago.
Retail trade sales were up 0.3% from January 2010 and 4.4% above last year. Gasoline stations sales were up 24.0% from February 2009, and non-store retailers sales were up 11.8% from last year.
The February Retail Sales increase of 0.3% was above expectations of a drop of 0.2%. Ex-autos, sales increased 0.8%, compared to expectations of +0.1%. However, we note that the December 2009 to January 2010 percent change was revised from +0.5% to +0.1%. This 0.4% downward revision for January puts the February numbers in-line with economist estimates.
Typically, February is a light month for retail sales as stores are clearing out the old merchandise and getting ready to put out merchandise for spring and summer. As a result, sales during this period are largely ignored.
Even so, this was still a positive report that shows that retail sales continue their rebound from the lows of last year, and that consumers are returning to the shopping malls — no matter how much snow is on the ground.