Warmer spring weather spurred continued consumer spending and activity this March, according to the National Retail Federation, which reported an increase in retail sales of .8% adjusted month to month and 1.6% unadjusted year-over-year. The most recent sales numbers exclude automobiles, gas stations and restaurants.
“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 by the U.S. Census Bureau, which include categories such as automobiles, gasoline stations, and restaurants, increased 1.1% seasonally adjusted month-to-month ($433.9 billion). The Census also reported that retail sales increased 3.8% 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.”
According to the NRF’s findings, furniture and home furnishing stores’ sales increased 1.0% seasonally (adjusted month-to-month) and 1.0% unadjusted year over year. General merchandise stores’ sales increased 1.9% percent seasonally (adjusted month-to-month) yet decreased 0.2% unadjusted year-over-year. Health and personal care stores’ sales increased 0.3% percent seasonally (adjusted month-to-month) and 4.0% unadjusted year-over-year.