March Retail Sales Spring Back

Retail sales in March showed marked improvement over the previous months as consumer spending thawed right along with the weather. The National Retail Federation today reported that sales excluding autos, gas and restaurants increased 0.5 percent seasonally adjusted over February and a solid 3.5 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

"March's sales report is a welcome improvement after severe winter weather weighed on retail sales for the last several months," said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. "Both the composition and the magnitude of March’s rebound show that consumers are dipping back into their discretionary budgets and spending on both hard and soft goods; several business lines in March show signs of improvements.

March's sales report is a welcome improvement after severe winter weather weighed on retail sales for the last several months

"An early Easter also played into the seasonal figures and provided some lift in retailers' sales; though consumers will continue to spend on a selective and price-sensitive basis, we expect a stronger second quarter with steady improvements in job and income growth," continued Kleinhenz.

The U.S. Department of Commerce today reported that sales in March, which includes autos, gas and restaurants, increased 0.9 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 1.3 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

Additional insights from March's retail sales report found:

  • Furniture and home furnishing store sales increased 1.4 percent seasonally adjusted over the previous month and 4.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Electronics stores sales decreased 0.5 percent seasonally adjusted over the previous month and 2.7 unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Building materials, supplies and garden equipment store sales increased 2.1 percent month-to-month and 8.6 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Clothing and clothing accessories stores sales increased 1.2 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 3.3 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Non-store retail sales decreased 0.1 percent seasonally adjusted over February and increased 6.6 percent unadjusted year-over-year.