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Commerce Department: Sales Down 0.1% in February; January Revised Up

Updated 12:30

The Commerce Department's figures for February came in. Sales fell 0.1 percent from February--less than what analysts had expected. Excluding autos, sales rose 0.7 percent. On an even more positive note, January sales--which had been reported as rising 1.0 percent--were revised upward to a 1.8 percent gain. Bloomberg has a write-up here.

Is this the beginning of the turnaround or merely a momentary blip? It seems hard for me to believe that consumer spending will rebound strongly at a time when we're seeing 600,000 jobs disappear every month--with the losses seeming to be accelerating.

Nevertheless, good news is good news.

Update: Calculated Risk puts the report into perspective.

All things considered, this is a decent retail sales report. Q1 retail sales are still about 1.4% below sales in Q4, but it appears that sales might have stabilized - especially ex-auto.

It now appears that Q1 GDP will be very weak - because investment is falling off a cliff and there is a significant inventory correction in progress - but Q1 PCE might only be slightly negative.

Note: February is typically the weakest retail month of the year, so the seasonal adjustment is the largest - and during periods of rapid change this can distort the data a little.

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Elaine Misonzhnik

Senior associate editor Elaine Misonzhnik has been writing for National Real Estate Investor since June 2006 and has covered commercial real estate for more than 12 years. She first became...
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