Clothing sales helped boost US retail sales last month

Clothing sales helped boost US retail sales last month

A rise in sales at US clothing retailers in March has helped US retail sales build on improvement seen in February, new figures show.

March retail sales increased 0.3% seasonally adjusted over February and 5% year-over-year as the economy continued to grow, according to figures from the National Retail Federation (NRF).

The March numbers, which exclude automobiles, gasoline stations, and restaurants, include a 7.6% rise year-over-year in online and other non-store sales, which were up 0.8% on February seasonally adjusted.

The numbers are based on data from the US Census Bureau, which said overall March sales – including automobiles, gasoline and restaurants – were up 0.6% seasonally adjusted from February and up 4.5% year-over-year.

Sales at clothing and clothing accessory stores increased 6.1% year-over-year but down 0.8% from February seasonally adjusted, while sporting goods stores showed the only year-over-year decrease, down 0.9%, and down 1.8% from February seasonally adjusted.

The March results build on improvement seen in February, which was up 0.2% over January and 4.3% year-over-year. The three-month moving average was up 4.8% over the same period a year ago.

"This is a healthy spending report despite market volatility, unseasonable weather and uncertain economic policies," says NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz. "Consumers continue to show resiliency in spending, and these numbers reflect how the economy is performing with a strong job market, gains in wages, improvements in confidence, rising home value and judicious use of credit. The biggest risk to spending is in market fluctuations that could affect confidence, but we expect these basic improvements in economic fundamentals to continue."

The results come as NRF is forecasting that 2018 retail sales will grow between 3.8% and 4.4% over 2017.

US retail sales set to grow up to 4.4% this year