March Retail Sales Increased 5 Percent Over Last Year

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Also up for the month, each by less than 1 percent, were furniture stores, electronics stores. grocery stores, restaurants and of course non-store (Internet) sales, which were up 0.8 percent.

United States retail sales rose for the first time in four months in March, boosted by a large increase in automobile purchases, but in real terms were weaker than expected by some economists.

"This is a healthy spending report despite market volatility, unseasonable weather and to uncertain economic policies", said NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz. The March results build on improvement seen in February, which was up 0.2% over January and 4.3% year over year.

U.S. retail sales increased more than a half-percent last month, the U.S. Commerce Department said Monday - a sign of greater-than-expected consumer confidence.

Sales at retailers slipped in the first two months of this year as consumers pulled back after heavy spending during the winter holidays.

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Non-store retailers like Amazon continued to gain, rising 0.8 per cent for the month, putting them up almost 10 per cent over March of previous year.

General merchandise stores were up 6.3 percent year-over-year and up 0.3 percent from February, seasonally adjusted.

Clothing and clothing accessory stores were up 6.1% year-over-year but down 0.8% from February seasonally adjusted. Sales at health and personal-care stores rose 1.4 percent and auto sales rose 2 percent, the most since September. For the year, vehicle sales were up 4.5 percent. This was borne out in the "control group" used in calculating GDP, which excludes gasoline, autos, building materials, and food services, and was up a sound 0.4 percent on the month, matching market projections.

Sporting goods stores were down 0.9 percent year-over-year and down 1.8 percent from February, seasonally adjusted.

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