Study: U.S. Retail Sales Up 6.9% Year-Over-Year in February

PURCHASE, N.Y. — According to Mastercard SpendingPulse, which measures in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment, U.S. retail sales excluding automotive were up 6.9% year-over-year in February. Mastercard SpendingPulse reflects nominal spending and is not adjusted for inflation.

“Following a dynamic holiday season, consumer spending returned to a familiar and healthy balance in February,” said Steve Sadove, Mastercard Senior Advisor and Former CEO of Saks, Inc. “Consumers have remained resilient, prioritizing discounts where possible to counteract inflationary pressures.” 

At a national level, key spending trends from February include:

  • E-commerce resilience: Following months of strong growth, E-commerce sales continued to climb, up +13.2% YOY as winter weather activity in many parts of the country kept consumers inside and ordering from the comfort of home. In-store sales were up +5.5% YOY.
  • Experiences remain a top priority: Spending on Restaurants (+14.2%), Airlines (+15.6%)* and Lodging (+42.7%)* experienced elevated growth YOY. This reflects suppressed growth in 2022, as well as continued demand for travel and experiences ahead of the popular spring break season.
  • Apparel & Department stores show moderate growth: Apparel (+3.9%) and Department store (+5.6%) sectors experienced modest year-over-year growth in February as consumers put an emphasis on pricing and value. In particular, Valentine’s Day drove a spike in sales across gifting sectors, including Apparel, Department Stores, and Jewelry.

“Retail spending continued to grow at a steady rate compared to 2022,” said Michelle Meyer, North America Chief Economist, Mastercard Economics Institute. “The consumer remains supported by robust labor market conditions with some added cushion from savings.”  

Travel services such as Airlines and Lodging are not included in the total retail sales figure.