Washington — Sales at CE and appliance stores edged up 0.5 percent in February, to nearly $8.3 billion, the U.S. Census Bureau reported.
But sales for the channel slipped 0.2 percent from January, the agency’s monthly retail sales tally shows.
In comparison, February sales for furniture and home stores rose 1.6 percent year over year, and e-tailers and other direct sellers saw sales climb 15.7 percent last month.
Total retail sales excluding food and automotive increased 7.8 percent in February.
The Census Bureau data are seasonally adjusted estimates that reflect calendar variations but not price changes.
“This portends a good, but not great, first quarter for retailers as consumers continue to breathe life into the economy,” observed Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist for the National Retail Federation (NRF). “It may be too early to measure the impact of the payroll tax hike and higher gasoline prices on consumer spending, [but] consumers once again exceeded economists’ expectations and estimates in February.”
Added NRF president/CEO Matthew Shay, “Retail continues to show its importance to the economy. That said, our consumer research consistently shows a cautious shopper that is making tough spending decisions based upon economic uncertainties, lower paychecks and higher prices for things such as gas. This is particularly true among those making $50,000 or less a year. While retail sales numbers indicate good momentum for the economy, consumers with less earning power may continue to face ongoing pressure and retail sales will encounter further challenges as sequestration takes full effect in March.”