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Special Report

Retail Sales Research Brief

March 2022

Easing Health Restrictions Support Retail
But Surging Gas Prices a Headwind

Retail sales mixed in February. Consumer spending increased a modest 0.3 percent last month, although much of the gain was driven by climbing fuel prices. Excluding energy costs, core retail sales retreated 0.4 percent in February, as widespread inflation eroded some consumption. Spending was nevertheless 15.8 percent above the same level last year, indicative of an overall more active consumer base. In a potential benefit to physical properties, the largest drag last month came from online sales, which fell 3.7 percent. As the omicron variant dissipated, more Americans were able to shift their behavior and visit tangible retail locations.

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