But an inflation-induced slowdown appears to have begun
WASHINGTON — Sales for U.S. furniture and home furnishings stores increased 7.4% in February over the same month last year, but were among roughly half the retail sectors tracked by the government that saw a dip from January.
Furniture stores sales increased to an estimated $12.32 billion from $11.47 billion in February 2021, the The Department of Commerce reported this morning. Sales were down 1% for the sector from sales of $12.44 billion in January, a figure that was revised up from the previous $12.43 billion estimate.
The report once again sends mixed signals, showing both the slowdown from earlier in the year but decent growth year-over-year despite headwinds. The 7.4% increase reflects the 21st consecutive monthly YOY gain for the industry. Nevertheless, it was among the smallest increase of any retail sector, as inflation appears to be weighing heavily on an industry dependent on discretionary spending.
Combined retail and food services sales in February were $658.1 billion, up 17.6% from the same month a year ago and up 0.3% from January. Retail trade sales alone increased 15.9% YOY and were unchanged from January.
The sector with the greatest YOY gains was gasoline stations, up 36.4%, as consumers filled up their tanks despite the big spike in oil and gas prices. Others with the greatest increases were restaurants and bars, up 33.0%, and clothing and clothing accessories stores, up 30.6%. Department stores, a subset of general merchandise stores, saw a 22.8% YOY increase, while nonstore retailers — which includes e-commerce and catalog companies — saw a 13.8% YOY gain.
That said, nonstore retailers also experienced the greatest decrease from January for any sector, with sales off 3.7%. The greatest increase from January went to gas stations, up 5.3%.
For a three-month period ending in February, furniture and home furnishings store sales were up 6.3% from the same period a year ago. All sectors combined saw a 16.0% gain, and the increase for nonstore retailers was 13.0%.