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Thanks to an earlier Easter holiday and unseasonably warm weather throughout much of the country, retailers in March witnessed solid sales growth.
According to the National Retail Federation, March retail industry sales (excluding automobiles, gas stations and restaurants) increased 0.8 percent seasonally adjusted from February and 6.6 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
“Consumers have demonstrated the desire and ability to spend on discretionary items, further helping to spur economic and retail sales growth in the first quarter of 2012,” said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. “While retailers will wait until the end of April to gauge the success of the spring shopping season, it’s evident that consumers are holding their own against rising gas prices and other economic concerns.”
March retail sales, released by the U.S. Department of Commerce, showed total retail sales (which includes non-general merchandise categories such as automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants) increased 0.8 percent adjusted month-to-month and 7.4 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
“Moderate retail sales growth in March will help to offset murkier recent economic employment data,” said NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz. “We expect to see gains through the all-important summer months, but job and weak income growth coupled with stubbornly high gas costs will continue to force consumers to make tough, price-sensitive choices.”
Other findings from the March retail sales numbers:
- Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers’ sales increased 3 percent seasonally adjusted month to month and 12.4 percent unadjusted year over year.
- Clothing and clothing accessories stores sales increased 0.9 percent seasonally adjusted month to month and 12.5 percent unadjusted year over year.
- Spring goods, hobby, book and music stores’ sales increased 0.5 percent seasonally adjusted month to month and 8.9 percent unadjusted year over year.
- Furniture and home furnishings stores sales increased 1.1 percent seasonally adjusted month to month and 7.9 percent unadjusted year over year.
NRF represents retailers of all types and sizes, including chain restaurants and industry partners, from the United States and more than 45 countries abroad.