February sales decline 10% amid winter weather

Retail sales dropped in February as much of the United States battled harsh winter weather.

There was a 10.4 percent decrease in year-over-year comparative sales in February. Traffic in physical stores also took a dive, and was down 12.5 percent.

"Winter weather was one of the big recurring news stories in February, and it certainly made its impact felt at brick-and-mortar stores," said Shelley Kohan, VP of retail consulting at RetailNext. "While store traffic declines were more severe in the Northeast and South regions as a result of the inclement weather, it was in those two regions, however, where sales per shopper (SpS) was the highest, boasting increases of over five percent year-over-year."

Sales, traffic and the number of transactions reached a monthly climax on Feb. 14, Valentine's Day. Conversion rates and sales per shopper were the highest on the day before. The first week of February saw the month's lowest sales, traffic and number of transactions. These numbers aren't surprising, either. Winter weather impacted much of the Northeast. However, according to IBISWorld, Valentine's Day spending was up about 3.8 percent from 2014.

While severe weather is usually a downer for brick-and-mortar retail, it can also be a positive growth factor for online sales and traffic. According to the Census Bureau of the Department of Commerce, e-commerce sales for the fourth quarter of 2014 were $79.6 billion, an increase of 2.3 percent from the third quarter of 2014, with some of that increase attributed to severe winter weather conditions.

For more:
-See this RetailNext press release

Related stories:
Retail sales soar to $5 trillion in 2015
Valentine's Day traffic up 4%
Store traffic, sales down 8% in January
Black Friday reports misleading, analysts looking at wrong data
November foot traffic drops 20% from last year