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Special Report

Retail Sales Research Brief

March 2023

Spending at Stores a Bright Spot Amid 
Decline in Overall Sales

Consumers place an emphasis on necessities. Total retail sales dropped 0.4 percent in February. However, store-based spending — which excludes purchases made online and at restaurants and bars — reached a record mark. This contrast indicates consumers may be prioritizing the purchase of necessities when visiting brick-and-mortar retailers, a dynamic that has positive implications for property performance moving forward. Last month, sales at health and personal care shops rose 0.9 percent, with grocery store purchasing up by nearly as much. Both segments rose in real terms when factoring in inflation, which is also encouraging. Contrasting this momentum, restaurant and bar sales fell by 2.2 percent last month, the largest decline among retail categories. Nevertheless, spending in this sector was up by more than 15 percent on an annual basis. 

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