Market Overview

March Retail Sales Increased 5 Percent Over Last Year

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March retail sales increased 0.3 percent seasonally adjusted over
February and 5 percent year-over-year as the economy continued to grow,
the National Retail Federation said today. The numbers exclude
automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants.

"This is a healthy spending report despite market volatility,
unseasonable weather and uncertain economic policies," NRF Chief
Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. "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."

The three-month moving average was up 4.8 percent over the same period a
year ago, and the results come as NRF is forecasting that 2018
retail sales will grow between 3.8 percent and 4.4 percent
over 2017.

The March results build on improvement seen in February, which was up
0.2 percent over January and 4.3 percent year over year.

NRF's numbers are based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, which said
overall March sales – including automobiles, gasoline and restaurants –
were up 0.6 percent seasonally adjusted from February and up 4.5 percent
year-over-year.

Specifics from key retail sectors during March include:

  • 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.
  • Health and personal care stores were up 0.4 percent year-over-year and
    up 1.4 percent from February seasonally adjusted.
  • Sporting goods stores were down 0.9 percent year-over-year and down
    1.8 percent from February seasonally adjusted.

About NRF

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 $2.6 trillion to
annual GDP, retail is a daily barometer for the nation's economy.

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