Retail sales are up in March, reports Commerce and NRF

Commerce reported that March was up 0.6% compared to February at $494.6 billion and was up 4.5% compared to March 2017. For the first quarter, total retail sales were up 4.1% compared to the same period a year ago. March snapped a three-month stretch of sequential declines for monthly retail sales

Retail sales in March were up slightly from February to March, with annual increases seeing better gains, according to data issued today by the United States Department of Commerce and the National Retail Federation (NRF).

Commerce reported that March was up 0.6% compared to February at $494.6 billion and was up 4.5% compared to March 2017. For the first quarter, total retail sales were up 4.1% compared to the same period a year ago. March snapped a three-month stretch of sequential declines for monthly retail sales.

And it added that gasoline stations sales rose 9.7% annually, and non-store retailers, which includes e-commerce, saw a 9.7% annual gain.

NRF reported a 0.3% annual gain on a seasonally-adjusted basis from February to March, with annual retail sales in March up 5%. The organization said that the three-month moving average for the first quarter increased 4.8% annually, with total 2018 retail sales estimated to see an annual gain between 3.8%-to-4.4%. The 0.3% sequential increase from February to March was ahead of the 0.2% gain from January to February, as well as the 4.3% annual jump in February.

“This is a healthy spending report despite market volatility, unseasonable weather and uncertain economic policies,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said in a statement. “Consumers continue to show resiliency in spending, and these numbers reflect how the economy is performing with a strong job market, gains in wages, improvements in confidence, rising home value and judicious use of credit. The biggest risk to spending is in market fluctuations that could affect confidence, but we expect these basic improvements in economic fundamentals to continue.”

Various retail sectors saw solid performances in March, including:
-Online and other non-store sales were up 7.6 percent year-over-year and up 0.8 percent over February seasonally adjusted.
-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 percent year-over-year but down 0.8 percent from February seasonally adjusted;
-Grocery and beverage stores were up 5.9 percent year-over-year and up 0.2 percent from February;
-Furniture and home furnishings stores were up 4.1 percent year-over-year and up 0.7 percent from February seasonally adjusted;
-Building materials and garden supply stores were up 3.8 percent year-over-year but down 0.6 percent from February seasonally adjusted;
-Electronics and appliance stores were up 1.6 percent year-over-year and up 0.5 percent from February seasonally adjusted; and
-Health and personal care stores were up 0.4 percent year-over-year and up 1.4 percent from February seasonally adjusted


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