US Retail Sales Declined 0.4% in February: UK and Ireland Retail Performance Mixed

US Retail Sales declined by 0.4% month-on-month (m/m) in February, according to the US Census Bureau.[0] This reading followed January's expansion of 3.2%, and came in slightly worse than the market expectation for a decrease of 0.3%.[1] According to Mastercard SpendingPulse, which measures in-store and online retail sales across all forms of payment, US retail sales excluding automotive were up 6.9% year-on-year (YoY) in February 2023.[2] In-store sales in the country were up by 5.5% YoY for the same month.[3]

Paul Martin, UK head of retail at KPMG, said: “While Scotland saw total sales growth in February of 9%, inflation is still running at around 10% and therefore any real terms growth was minimal. With overall inflation running at around 10%, and food inflation sitting nearer 20%, total sales growth for February of just 5% will be eating hard into retail margins and masking the true state of the sector's health.”[4]

The relaxation of Covid restrictions and a surge in holiday bookings led to strong performances for Irish consumers.[5] Revolut, the global financial super app with over 2 million customers in Ireland, has released its latest monthly consumer spending report, which shows that the average consumer in Ireland is spending 17.8% more than they did in the previous year.[6] Supermarket spending increased by 18.9% compared to last year, while many are looking to cut costs down by shopping at discount stores, which saw an 13.9% increase in the number of customers, and where the average customer spent 6.8% more.[7]

The Scottish Retail Consortium said total sales grew by a modest 0.6 per cent in February, compared with the same month last year and once prices had been adjusted for inflation, which remains at historically high levels. The total value of food sales rose by 13.3%, when taking inflation into consideration, while total non-food sales increased by 5.3% year over year.[8]

In February, total UK retail sales experienced a growth of 5.2%, which was below the three-month average of 5.5% but higher than the 12-month average of 2.4%. This increase is lower than the 6.7% seen for the same month in the previous year, as reported by the British Retail Consortium-KPMG Retail Sales Monitor.

E-commerce sales continued to climb, up 13.[3]

0. “US: Retail Sales Soften in February, Meeting Consensus Expectations” Action Forex, 15 Mar. 2023,

1. “US: Retail Sales decline by 0.4% in February vs. -0.3% expected” FXStreet, 15 Mar. 2023,

2. “Mastercard SpendingPulse: Retail sales up 6.9% year-over-year in February” Chain Store Age, 9 Mar. 2023,

3. “In-store sales in US rise 5.5% YoY in Feb 2023: Mastercard”, 13 Mar. 2023,

4. “Scottish Retail Consortium and KPMG say rising costs have caused record high high in grocery sales” STV News, 15 Mar. 2023,

5. “Consumers prioritise experiences and travel, new card spend data from Revolut says” jim o brien, 13 Mar. 2023,

6. “Shoppers spending more on food and travel as inflation lingers” The Irish Times, 13 Mar. 2023,

7. “Shoppers rein in spending as living costs rise – Financial News”, 9 Mar. 2023,

8. “Scottish retail sales rise for fourth month in row as grocery inflation hits 24-year high – SRC” The Scotsman, 15 Mar. 2023,

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