US retail sales show “marked improvement”
Clothing sales grew 1.2% in March
US retail sales including clothing showed a marked improvement in March, as consumers started to spend again thanks to an earlier Easter this year.
According to the latest figures from the US Commerce Department, which includes cars, gasoline and restaurants, retail sales climbed 0.9% month-on-month, and were up 0.5% from March last year.
Sales at clothing and clothing accessories stores increased 1.2% from February and year-on-year.
At general merchandise stores, sales edged up 0.6% month-on-month, but fell 1.3% from March last year. Department stores saw sales rise 1.4% from February, but edged down 0.1% year-on-year.
Sales at sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores rose 0.2% month-on-month, and grew 2.8% on March a year ago.
Separate data from the National Retail Federation (NRF) which excludes automobiles, gas stations and restaurants, found retail sales edged up 0.5% on a seasonally adjusted basis from February, and increased 3.5% unadjusted year-on-year.
NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz described the performance as a "welcome improvement", after severe winter weather weighed on retail sales for the last few months.
"Both the composition and the magnitude of March’s rebound show that consumers are dipping back into their discretionary budgets and spending on both hard and soft goods; several business lines in March show signs of improvements.
"An early Easter also played into the seasonal figures and provided some lift in retailers' sales; though consumers will continue to spend on a selective and price-sensitive basis, we expect a stronger second quarter with steady improvements in job and income growth."
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