US retail sales post marginal increase for February 2013

13 March 2013 (Last Updated March 13th, 2013 18:30)

US retail sales posted a 0.7%, seasonally adjusted, increase for the month of February 2013, as compared to the earlier month of January.

US retail sales posted a 0.7%, seasonally adjusted, increase for the month of February 2013, as compared to the earlier month of January.

The increase was despite higher payroll taxes that came into effect and the escalated gasoline prices, said the National Retail Federation.

NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said that though the figures 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.

"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," noted Shay.

The seasonally unadjusted figures when compared to the corresponding month in 2012, inched up 0.5%.

Figures released by the US department of commerce, meanwhile, revealed that the total retail and food services sales increased 1.1% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and increased 4.6% adjusted year-over-year.

The figures released by the commerce department include sales for non-general merchandise categories such as automobiles, gasoline stations, and restaurants

NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz remarked that it was rather early to gauge the impact of the payroll tax hike and higher gasoline prices on consumer spending.

"Consumers, once again, exceeded economists’ expectations and estimates in February, this portends a good, but not great, first quarter for retailers as consumers continue to breathe life into the economy," added Kleinhenz.