Dow Jones industrial futures are down 26 points to 14,360. The broader S&P futures have lost 3.2 points to 1,543.60. Nasdaq futures are down 5.5 points to 2,792.50.
Economists believe that retail sales rose 0.2 percent between January and February, a hair above January sales.
The Commerce Department report Wednesday, the government's first peek into the mood of shoppers, is watched closely because consumer spending drives about 70 percent of economic activity in the U.S.
Retail stores have already posted their own numbers for February and sales were hampered by both rising taxes and colder temperatures.