Retailers saw strong March sales thanks to an early Easter and unseasonably warm weather. According to the National Retail Federation, retail industry sales for March (which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) rose 3.7 percent unadjusted over last year and 0.8 percent seasonally adjusted from February.
March retail sales released today by the U.S. Commerce Department show that total retail sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations and restaurants) increased 0.7 percent seasonally adjusted from last month and increased 3.8 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
“The big winners in March were clothing stores, whose shoppers splurged on new spring apparel,” said NRF Chief Economist Rosalind Wells. “Clearly the weather and the early Easter had a desirable impact on retail sales.”
Clothing and clothing accessories stores sales saw the strongest gains with a 10.7 percent increase unadjusted over last year and a 2.4 percent increase seasonally adjusted from February.
General merchandise stores sales also fared well, with a 6.6 percent increase unadjusted from last year and a 1.1 percent increase seasonally adjusted from February. Furniture and home furnishings stores sales rose 4.2 percent unadjusted from last year and 0.6 percent seasonally adjusted from the previous month.
Building material and garden equipment supplies stores sales continue to decline with unadjusted year-over-year sales down 5.7 percent. With a little help from the arrival of spring, sales increased 1.4 percent seasonally adjusted from February.