February retail sales increased 0.3 percent seasonally adjusted over January and 4.4 percent year-over-year as the economy continued to grow, the National Retail Federation said on Wednesday.
The three-month moving average was also up 4.4 percent over the same period a year ago, and the results come as NRF is forecasting that 2018 retail sales will grow between 3.8 percent and 4.4 percent over 2017.
The February numbers won back a slight monthly dip seen in January, which declined 0.2 percent from December coming off one of the best holiday seasons in years but was up 5.4 percent year-over-year.
“Consumers are still in the driver’s seat,” said Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist at NRF. “Month-to-month comparisons don’t tell the whole story because of seasonal adjustment factors, but the three-month moving average and other year-over-year numbers are better indicators that reflect how sales are really increasing. It’s still too early to draw conclusions about the impact of tax cuts but extra money in shoppers’ pockets should help as the year goes forward. With consumer confidence and employment growth, economic fundamentals are favorable for spending to expand in the coming months.”
NRF’s numbers are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which said overall February sales – including automobiles, gasoline, and restaurants – were down 0.1 percent seasonally adjusted from January but up 4 percent year-over-year.