Retail Sales Spring Up in March as Winter Weather Ebbs

Continued Optimism Expected with the Arrival of Easter & Tax Refunds

WASHINGTON--()--Warmer spring weather spurred continued consumer spending and activity this March. According to the National Retail Federation – the world's largest retail trade association – 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.

“Consumers shed their winter coats last month for fresh, spring merchandise,” 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 today 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.
  • Nonstore 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.

NRF is the world’s largest retail trade association, representing discount and department stores, home goods and specialty stores, Main Street merchants, grocers, wholesalers, chain restaurants and Internet retailers from the United States and more than 45 countries. Retail is the nation’s largest private sector employer, supporting one in four U.S. jobs – 42 million working Americans. Contributing $2.5 trillion to annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation’s economy. NRF’s This is Retail campaign highlights the industry’s opportunities for life-long careers, how retailers strengthen communities, and the critical role that retail plays in driving innovation. www.nrf.com

Note to media: Retail Insight Center

Contacts

National Retail Federation
Stephen E. Schatz or Bethany Aronhalt
855-NRF-Press
Press@NRF.com

Release Summary

Warmer spring weather spurred continued consumer spending and activity this March. According to the National Retail Federation – the world's largest retail trade association – March retail sales...

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Contacts

National Retail Federation
Stephen E. Schatz or Bethany Aronhalt
855-NRF-Press
Press@NRF.com