USA: retail sales

February data strong and January number revised substantially up

  • Retail sales rose buoyantly in February and January’s data were revised substantially up
  • As a result, the Q1 slowdown in consumption growth appears less marked than previously suggested
  • As a result, our forecast for consumption growth in Q1 (+2.5% q-o-q annualised, following +4.1% in Q4) can remain unchanged

Nominal retail sales rose by a strong 1.0% m-o-m in February, in line with consensus expectations. Moreover, January’s figure was revised sizeably up from +0.3% to +0.7% and December’s reading from +0.5% to +0.6%.

Retail sales increased by 9.4% annualised between Q4 and January-February, following +13.7% q-o-q annualised in Q4. Short-term movements in nominal retail sales are heavily influenced by oil prices. Excluding sales at gasoline stations, the picture of a slowdown was nevertheless similar, although growth rates were significantly less vigorous. Annualised growth in sales slowed from 12.3% q-o-q in Q4 to 7.8% between Q4 and January-February.

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