Washington, DC, United States (4E) – Sales by U.S. retailers jumped by more than anticipated last month, according to official data, reversing the post-Christmas slowdown in January.
Sales volumes increased 1.7 percent in February after declining by a revised 2 percent in the prior month. February’s sales rose 3.7 percent from the same period last year, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS). Economists had forecast retail sales to rise by 0.5 percent in February and 2.5 percent on the year.
For the first time in four years, retail prices declined and are lower by 0.2 percent from the previous year, driven by a 4.4 percent decline in prices of fuel. The data was released two days after inflation was reported to have declined to 1.7 percent, the lowest level since October 2009.
Wage growth also rose slightly, bringing the gap between pace of wages and inflation at its narrowest since April 2010, according to the ONS.
Sales rose 1.6 percent in the three months to the end of February compared with the previous three months, representing the strongest performance since August. Online sales continued its solid growth last month, rising 2.5 percent on January and 12.4 percent on the previous year.
Supermarket store sales accounted for more than half of retail sales growth, the ONS said.