March 20th, 2018

February retail sales fall 0.1 pct; few signs of tax bump

By Josh Boak, The Associated Press on March 14, 2018.

In this Sunday, Jan. 7, 2018, photograph, sun glints off the headlight housing of an unsold 2018 Maserati Levante in a long line of the high-end sports utility vehicles sitting on a dealer's lot in Highlands Ranch, Colo. On Wednesday, March 14, 2018, the Commerce Department releases U.S. retail sales data for February. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

WASHINGTON – U.S. consumers spent less at auto dealers, gas stations and department stores in February, causing overall retail sales to slip 0.1 per cent.

The Commerce Department said Wednesday that sales have declined for the past three months, but they’re still 4 per cent higher from a year ago. Shoppers have opened 2018 with a cold spell after robust spending gains in the months leading up to the holidays.

So far, the promise of higher take-home pay from President Donald Trump’s tax cuts appears to have had little influence on spending for big ticket items such as autos.

Consumers have also continued migrating to online outlets such as Amazon and away from traditional department stores, dampening overall sales as the competition to charge the lowest price has increased. Retail sales are increasingly influenced by the aging of the baby boomer generation, who tend to spend less after retirement.

Auto sales fell 0.9 per cent last month, while purchases at gas stations tumbled 1.2 per cent. Sales at department stores declined 0.9 per cent.

But spending at online and catalogue retailers climbed, as did spending at building materials stores, restaurants and clothiers to offset much of the decline elsewhere.

The sales decline seems to contradict some of the optimism among retailers, which added a healthy 50,300 jobs in February, according to the Labor Department’s jobs report.

Share this story:

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.