And as usual, they will add no value by focusing on numbers that are inherently volatile.
All things considered, February was okay. Headline sales are still 3.4% ahead of this time a year ago despite the fact that food inflation is way down. The moderation in food prices accounts in large part for the apparent weakness in supermarket and specialty food sales (up only 1.3% on a year-over-year basis).
Discretionary sales growth was stronger than the headline number -- up 4.6% year over year. That's a good sign.
The one issue that still looks worrying is that the small retailer segment remains far adrift of the chains. While the chains gained 5.1% the indies gained only 0.5%, and then only because of food away from home. Exclude the latter and the small guys suffered a 3.1% sales decline.
Taken all together, the February retail results confirm that the economic recovery is neither as strong as the optimists say it is, nor as bad as the pessimists reckon.