After a blowout retail sales report for January, this morning’s release for February showed a much more subdued, although still positive, pace of retail sales. On a headline basis, Retail Sales rose 0.1% m/m which was right inline with expectations. Ex Autos and Ex Autos and Gas, today’s report was also right inline with expectations with growth of 0.1% and 0.2%, respectively. Getting back to January’s report, in addition to being considerably better than expected in the initial release, revisions pushed the growth levels even higher, with headline being revised up to 0.6% from 0.4%, and Ex Autos and Ex Autos and Gas both being revised up above 1%.
While headline retail sales were uneventful, underneath the service there were some major moves. One of those moves concerns online sales, which have just been sucking up share like a vacuum. As just one example, take a look at the chart below which shows how long each of the thirteen sectors in the Retail Sales report has seen m/m increases. At 25 months and counting, the current streak for online is more than four times as long as the next closest sector Building Materials. Never before in the history of the Retail Sales report (going back to 1993) has any sector seen a similar streak of m/m gains in sales.
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