The US Commerce Department reported a preliminary total for US retail sales for February 2011 of $309.852 billion, up from $308.035 billion for January 2011, and reported a preliminary total for US retail inventories for February 2011 of $447.435 billion, down from $447.579 billion for January 2011.
As for March, the Department reported that retail sales increased 0.4%, the ninth consecutive gain, although the rise was only 0.1% if gasoline sales were excluded. The biggest loser, auto sales, fell 1.7%, the largest drop since February 2010. On the positive side, furniture store sales rose 3.6% from February. More jobs and a payroll tax cut are expected to continue the spending rebound.
Expanding that data to include manufacturers, the US Census Bureau reported that the combined value of distributive trade sales and manufacturers’ shipments for February, adjusted for seasonal and trading-day differences but not for price changes, was estimated at $1.174 trillion, up 0.2% from January 2011 and up 10.9% from February 2010. The Bureau also reported manufacturers’ and trade inventories, adjusted for seasonal variations but not for price changes, were estimated at an end-of-month level of $1.457.9 trillion, up 0.5% from January 2011 and up 9.1% from February 2010.