US Retail Sales Climb More Than Expected On Rebound In Auto Sales

US Retail Sales Climb More Than Expected On Rebound In Auto Sales

According the National Retail Federation (NRF), total retail sales in March increased 0.3% seasonally adjusted over February and 5.0% year-over-year.

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

The modest increase in ex-auto sales partly reflected a 1.4 percent spike in sales by health and personal care stores.

The three-month moving average was up 4.8 percent over the same period a year ago, and the results come as NRF is forecasting that 2018 retail sales will grow between 3.8 percent and 4.4 percent over 2017. Excluding automobiles and gasoline, sales advanced 0.3 percent for a second month.

Non-store retailers like Amazon continued to gain, rising 0.8 per cent for the month, putting them up almost 10 per cent over March of previous year. So-called retail control-group sales, which are used to calculate gross domestic product and exclude food services, auto dealers, building-materials stores and gasoline stations, gained 0.4 percent, matching estimates.

Read the Census release. It is expected to have slowed to below a 1.5 percent rate of increase in the first quarter.

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Last month's pick-up in core retail sales did little to change expectations of a sharp slowdown in consumer spending in the first quarter.

Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of US economic activity, grew at a robust 4.0 percent annualised rate in the fourth quarter. "People were so built up on the economy and tax cuts, but our view is that it's more steady than acceleration".

Sales at home furnishing stores rose 0.7 per cent, and were up 0.5 per cent at electronics stores.

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

But they fell at home and garden stores, clothing shops and sporting goods stores.

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

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