US retail sales unexpectedly worsened last month in what was the third consecutive month of decline.
The US Census Bureau revealed that total sales were down 0.1% month-on-month when they had been expected to improve 0.3%, while retail sales for January were revised higher to show a smaller decline of 0.1% from the 0.3% reported initially.
Excluding automobiles, retail sales rose 0.2% but this was short of the 0.4% consensus forecast, with a mixed performance across subsectors. Non-store retailers were up 1%, building materials, sporting goods also rose, while sales of motor vehicles and parts were down 0.9%, with gasoline station sales also falling.
The momentum in retail sales has been slowing since December and points to lower consumption spending in the first quarter, said Barclays.