Published: Mon, April 16, 2018
Finance | By Claude Patterson

Economy Watch: Retail Sales See Healthy Uptick in March

Economy Watch: Retail Sales See Healthy Uptick in March

Total retail and food services sales increased 4.5% in March from March a year ago to $494.6 billion, and were up 0.6% from revised February sales.

The result put sales up 4.5 per cent over the same month past year, pointing to a trend of steady overall increases.

The increase followed a 0.1 percent drop in February, which was the third of three consecutive months of decline.

The US Commerce Department's Retail Sales report for March will be published at 8.30 am ET Monday. Gasoline station sales are up 9.7% since March 2017. Refunds from 2017 returns may have also given retail sales a boost in March. It is expected to have slowed to below a 1.5 percent rate of increase in the first quarter.

Looking into the details, sales for furniture, electronics and appliances, health and personal care, and non-store retailers rose in the month.

The relatively weak spending has kept estimates for economic growth in check, with analysts forecasting before Monday's report that gross domestic product expanded at a 2.2 percent annualized pace in the January-March period, down from 2.9 percent in the previous quarter.

Clothing and clothing accessory stores were up 6.1% year-over-year but down 0.8% from February seasonally adjusted.

"Our latest Quarterly Forecast calls for healthy consumer spending through the remainder of 2018, with growth in the neighborhood of 2.5 percent-3.0 percent annualized", added TD Economics.

Home furnishings store sales grew to $9.93 billion, up from a revised $9.55 billion in March of past year, the U.S. Department of Commerce said. Sales at restaurants and bars gained 0.4 percent. The survey's measure of future business conditions dropped to a more than two-year low.

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