NRF: Retail sales increased nationwide in most categories

WASHINGTON — Warmer spring weather spurred continued consumer spending and activity this March.

According to the National Retail Federation, March retail sales, which exclude automobiles, gas stations and restaurants, increased 0.8 percent adjusted month-to-month and 1.6 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

NRF president and CEO Matthew Shay said, “Retail sales increased in most categories and sectors as consumers took to stores to purchase new spring attire and home furnishings in hopeful expectation of warmer weather. Sales should continue to remain positive this spring with the approach of Easter and expected tax refunds.”

Earlier this month, NRF’s Easter Spending Survey conducted by Prosper Insights & Analytics reported that the average American consumer will spend $137.46 this Easter holiday on clothing, candy, gifts and more, with total spending reaching $15.9 billion.

March retail sales, released yesterday by the U.S. Census Bureau, which include categories such as automobiles, gasoline stations, and restaurants, increased 1.1 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month ($433.9 billion). The Census also reported that retail sales increased 3.8 percent adjusted year-over-year.

“Improving economic conditions and consumer confidence should push consumers to return to spending habits this spring,” NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “Consumers released some pent-up demand in March after two consecutive months of harsh winter weather that not only hampered employment opportunities but also retail sales. We remain optimistic that retail sales will continue their positive march this spring.”

Additional findings from NRF’s retail sales report include:

• Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers stores’ sales increased 1.8 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 6.2 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

• Clothing and clothing accessories stores’ sales increased 1.0 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month yet decreased 2.3 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

• Electronics and appliance stores’ sales decreased 1.6 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 2.0 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

• Furniture and home furnishing stores’ sales increased 1.0 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 1.0 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

• General merchandise stores’ sales increased 1.9 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month yet decreased 0.2 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

• Health and personal care stores’ sales increased 0.3 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 4.0 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

• Non-store retailers’ sales increased 1.7 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 8.0 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

• Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores’ sales increased 0.3 percent seasonally-adjusted month-to-month yet decreased 5.5 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

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