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Mar 18, 2021
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U.S. apparel retail sales tumble in February

Published
Mar 18, 2021

U.S. retail sales are making progress in 2021, according to a new report from the National Retail Federation (NRF), but the positive trend is not reflected in apparel sales.

US apparel retail sales tumble in February. - Photo: Public domain/Pixabay


As outlined by data from the U.S. Census Bureau, overall retail sales in February were down 3 percent seasonally adjusted from January, but up 6.3 percent year-over-year. Those results follow a monthly increase of 7.6 percent and a yearly gain of 9.5 percent, in January. 

The NRF report credited the year-over-year retail sales gain to increased Covid-19 vaccination, government stimulus and reduced restrictions on businesses, which continued to impact the pace of spending.

“February’s retail sales numbers are a minor speed bump on the road to post-pandemic recovery and are not a reflection of consumers’ willingness and ability to spend and drive the economy,” said NRF president and CEO, Matthew Shay. 

“A number of factors contributed to these results, including major snowstorms in the northeast and unprecedented ice storms in the south, but they do not diminish the stimulus-related growth we saw in January or what we expect to see as additional stimulus relief hits consumer bank accounts in the weeks ahead.”

In the retail sector, February retail sales fell in every category except groceries, which were unchanged, on a month-over-month basis, but sales were up in two-thirds of categories on a year-over-year basis. 

Clothing and clothing accessory stores were down 2.8 percent month-over-month seasonally adjusted and down 14.9 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

There was some hope to be found in e-commerce, with online and other non-store sales down 5.4 percent month-over-month seasonally adjusted, but up 23.5 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

Still looking ahead, NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said he expects “another large boost in consumer spending over the next few months.”

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