WINTERTIME, AND THE SHOPPING WAS EASY
Was unusually mild weather responsible for the surprising surge in retail sales in January and February? Economist Michael Evans of Evans Economics Inc. has compared weather reports to recent assessments of retail activity in their regions by the 12 Federal Reserve banks around the nation.
According to national weather service data, winter temperatures were nearly normal in the Dallas and San Francisco regions, much above normal in the Minneapolis and Chicago regions, and somewhat above normal in all other regions. At the same time, the Fed banks' weakest retail sales reports for January and February came from the San Francisco and Dallas regions and the strongest from Minneapolis and Chicago, with the others in between. Evans' conclusion: "Recent sharp retail sales gains were due more to mild weather than a basic turnaround in spending."GENE KORETZ