U.S. Retail Sales Rise in March

Retail sales have also increased by 2.8 percent year-over-year on a three-month moving average.

March retail sales (excluding automobiles, gas stations and restaurants) increased 0.3 percent seasonally adjusted over February and 3.5 percent unadjusted year-over-year, according to the National Retail Federation.

Most retail segments reported monthly gains; however, there were declines in the building materials and supplies and sporting goods categories, likely due to winter weather. Other categories, including clothing and accessories and general merchandise, reported slight gains month-to-month but declines in unadjusted year-over-year sales.

On a three-month moving average, retail sales have grown 2.8 percent year-over-year.

“Various factors were at play in the first quarter, but we are again seeing a pattern similar to previous years–consumer spending was weak but is expected to pick up as we move through the year,” says Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist, NRF.

Other highlights from the NRF’s report include online and other non-store sales increased 0.6 percent over February and increased 11.4 percent unadjusted year-over-year; electronics and appliances stores’ sales increased 2.6 percent seasonally adjusted over February and remained even year-over-year; clothing and accessories sales increased 1 percent seasonally adjusted but decreased 2.5 percent unadjusted year-over-year; sales at general merchandise stores increased 0.3 percent seasonally adjusted and remained even year-over-year; furniture and home furnishings decreased 0.3 percent but increased 3.3 percent unadjusted year-over-year; building materials and supplies stores sales decreased 1.5 percent seasonally adjusted, but increased 6.3 percent year-over-year; sporting goods stores saw a 0.8 percent decline from February and decreased 4.7 percent unadjusted year-over-year; and health and personal care stores increased 0.1 percent over February and increased 5.3 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

“A lack of pricing power continues to plague the retail industry,” says Kleinhenz. “There is no doubt that weak pricing power led to the bumpy period for retailers in the first part of this year.”

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