Weak Retail Sales Further Concerns of Economic Slowdown

April 1, 2019

U.S. retail sales saw an unexpected drop in February, fueling concerns that economic growth may be slowing. Retail sales fell 0.2 percent from the month before, with the biggest drops being in sales of furniture, clothing, electronics, and food. February’s sales were 2.2 percent higher than the same month a year earlier.

Economists had predicted an increase of 0.3 percent.

The so-called “core” retail sales, which leave out the more volatile components such as gasoline automobiles, also fell 0.2 percent. While January’s core sales were revised up to a 1.7 percent increase, it was not enough to counter December’s massive 2 percent drop. Consumer spending accounts for more than two-thirds of GDP, and February’s weak numbers do little to change the tepid expectations for the first quarter’s GDP growth.

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