President Trump's tax cuts have failed to spark a spending spree in America, with retail sales unexpectedly lower for the third month in a row in February.
The February numbers won back a slight monthly dip seen in January, which declined 0.2% from December coming off one of the best holiday seasons in years but was up 5.4% year-over-year.
Stimulus in home-related spending has also fueled sales at major home improvement chains like Home Depot and Lowes, both of which saw growth in same-store sales over the latest quarter. Consumer sentiment and confidence are running at cyclical highs, but spending is foundering. Sales of newly built homes and existing homes have both increased in the previous year, and they need to be outfitted with new furnishing and new appliances.
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United States retail sales in February were mildly mixed, according to data issued today by the Department of Commerce and the National Retail Federation (NRF).
"There's clearly some buyers' strike going on in the last couple of months, but we know that consumer fundamentals are incredibly sound", said Tom Porcelli, the chief USA economist of RBC Capital Markets. Nonstore retailer sales are up 10.1% year-over-year as online retailers continue to grow their market share.
Clothing and clothing accessory stores were up 5.2 percent year-over-year and up 0.4 percent from January seasonally adjusted. Furniture and home furnishing sales were up 3.3% annually, and electronics and appliances sales rose 4.5%.
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While spending growth in some of these categories may be simply due to seasonal factors, such as sporting goods and restaurant spending, others signal bigger changes in consumer spending trends.
General merchandise stores were up 2.4 percent year-over-year but down 0.4 percent from January seasonally adjusted.
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