‘Consumers were Busy in March’ NRF Finds
Retail sales were looking a bit more promising in March as opposed to February with numbers bumping up 1 percent seasonally adjusted from February, and 0.8 percent unadjusted year-over-year the National Retail Federation (NRF) found. These totals did not account for automobile dealers, gas stations, and restaurants, however.
Although the thick of the cold weather began to fade in March, there remained a few brisk days in the beginning of the month, and even some snow. Easter also came later than usual this year, which gave shoppers an extended amount of time to purchase gifts and basket stuffers.
“The change of seasons is always a factor because of the weather, and a later Easter and Passover this year mean holiday-related sales that took place in March last year won’t come until April this year and sizably impact year-over-year comparisons,” NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said.
Many segments reflected the year-over-year drop with a month-over-month increase including electronics and appliance stores. Those guys were down 4.1 percent year-over-year but up 0.5 percent month-over month. According to our Dealerscope CE Retail Confidence Index, sales should begin picking up even more throughout April. Warmer weather is in the forecast, and shoppers will likely be getting a jump on Father’s Day and graduation gifts.
“March’s numbers are very encouraging and set the stage for improved expectations for the economy in the coming months, especially since the first quarter is typically weak,” added Kleinhenz. “These numbers boost first-quarter performance and suggest a strong consumer. It is clear that underlying consumer fundamentals including job and wage growth and healthy household balance sheets continue to support spending. Consumers were busy in March after weaker-than-expected spending earlier.”