Retail sales in March increased across the board for the ninth straight month, according to the National Retail Federation. Sales for March (which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) increased 0.6 percent seasonally adjusted from February and 3.9 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
“Shoppers last month were eager to take advantage of retailers’ spring promotions on everything from apparel to outdoor furniture,” said Matthew Shay, president and CEO of the world's largest retail trade association. “While current indicators point to a more confident consumer, increasing gas prices and a cramped job market could hamper consumer spending during the upcoming summer months, a key time of year for retailers.”
March retail sales released Wednesday by the U.S. Commerce Department show total retail sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations and restaurants) increased 0.4 percent seasonally adjusted over February and 7.3 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
Warmer weather helped building material, garden equipment and supplies dealers see increased sales last month, increasing 2.2 percent seasonally adjusted from the previous month and 5.5 percent unadjusted over last year, according to NRF figures. Clothing and clothing accessory stores sales rose 0.6 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 3.4 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
Electronics and appliance stores also saw solid gains with March sales up 2.1 percent seasonally adjusted from the previous month and 3.6 percent unadjusted over last year in those stores. Sales at grocery stores increased 0.3 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 4.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year. Health and personal care stores sales increased 0.7 percent seasonally adjusted over February and 5.1 percent unadjusted over last year.
Also benefiting from warmer weather, furniture and home furnishing stores sales increased 3.6 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 3.8 percent unadjusted year-over-year.