The March results build on the higher sales seen in February, which was up 0.2% over January and 4.3% year-over-year. These numbers exclude sales of automobiles and at gasoline stations and restaurants.
“This is a healthy spending report despite market volatility, unseasonable weather and uncertain economic policies,” said NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz in a statement. “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 values 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.”
All sectors except sporting goods saw sales improvements in March on a year-by-year basis. Sporting goods stores saw sales declines of 0.9%.
- Online and other non-store sales: up 7.6%;
- General merchandise: up 6.3%;
- Clothing and clothing accessories: up 6.1%;
- Grocery and beverage: up 5.9%;
- Furniture and home furnishings: up 4.1%;
- Building materials and garden supplies: up 3.8%;
- Electronics and appliances: up 1.6%; and
- Health and personal care: up 0.4%.