Published: Mon, April 16, 2018
Finance | By Loren Pratt

Automobiles power United States retail sales in March

Automobiles power United States retail sales 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. Sales at health and personal-care stores rose 1.4 percent and auto sales rose 2 percent, the most since September. Sales at furniture stores climbed 0.7 percent while those at electronics and appliance stores increased 0.5 percent. Without auto sales, the total retail sales gain for the month was 0.2 percent.

Released at the same time, the April Empire Fed is forecast to slip to +18.6 from +22.5 but the market reaction will be driven by the retail sales report.

Spending at US retailers rose broadly in March, rebounding after a weak start this year for consumer spending despite a solid labor market and growing worker paychecks.

Online and other non-store sales were up 7.6 percent year-over-year and up 0.8 percent over February seasonally adjusted.

Excluding the jump in auto sales, retail sales edged up by 0.2 percent in March, matching the uptick seen in the previous month as well as economist estimates. Some also argue that income tax cuts, which came into effect in January, only reflected on most workers' paychecks in late February.

"We remain upbeat for the coming months", he added.

Meanwhile, sales dropped at building material & garden equipment supplies dealers, clothing and accessories stores and sporting goods hobby, books and music.

The higher spending could support GDP growth in the first quarter, which is expected to be sluggish. Bars and restaurants gained 0.4 per cent.

"This is a healthy spending report despite market volatility, unseasonable weather and to uncertain economic policies", said NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz.

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