The U.S. consumer might not have ventured out to the usual extent for the time of year on account of cold, snowy conditions, but investors will be warmed by news that those that stayed at home last month bought more at online venues. U.S. retail sales in the nonstore category along with those at sporting goods stores rebounded sharply (see chart) as nine out of 13 categories saw consumers step-up purchases. That statistic is the highest since October. At the same time the weekly reading for initial jobless claims of 315,000 was encouragingly below forecast signaling a thawing in labor market conditions. The reading--the lowest tally since November--also confirms that the ongoing recovery in the labor market is likely to be rekindled as the warmer spring returns.
The gain in nonstore sales added 0.11% to the headline increase of 0.30% for overall sales during February. The sector accounts for 9.1% of the monthly retail sales tally. It was the largest monthly gain in more than one year. Health store sales along with autos and car parts and sporting goods were the largest drivers of the increase in consumption last month. Sales fell amongst food and beverage, general merchandise and miscellaneous retailers who in aggregate account for 28% of total sales.
Nonstore and sales of sporting goods rebounded in February, as the chart shows.