WASHINGTON — Retail sales of consumer electronics and major appliances were just shy of $9 billion in February, according to the U.S. Commerce Department’s monthly tally.
Revenue at CE and majap stores rose 3.7 percent from January but decreased 1.6 percent year over year, seasonally adjusted. By contrast, sales at furniture and home-furnishings stores increased 0.7 percent over January and decreased 2.1 percent year over year.
Total retail sales, excluding car dealers, gas stations and restaurants, increased 1.0 percent seasonally adjusted over January and 1.7 percent unadjusted year over year.
Credit Suisse retail analyst Gary Balter attributed the CE gains to a late start for Super Bowl and improving underlying trends, as comparable year-over-year sales continue to increase each month.
The National Retail Federation (NRF), a trade association, said last month’s severe wintry weather may have also aided retail sales. “February could be the direct result of cabin fever with consumers eager to get some fresh air and enjoy a day of shopping,” noted NRF chief economist Rosalind Wells.
Wells expects the sales gains to continue, although “high unemployment and other economic factors will restrain consumers’ ability to splurge on discretionary items.”