U.S. retail sales rebounded 0.6 percent in March

Lloyd Doyle
April 16, 2018

The three-month moving average was up 4.8% over the same period a year ago, and the results come as NRF is forecasting that 2018 retail sales will grow between 3.8% and 4.4% over 2017. Auto sales rose 2%, the most since September; a report last week showed purchases of cars and light trucks rose to a 17.4 million annualized rate in March, the fastest this year.

Retail sales in March were up slightly from February to March, with annual increases seeing better gains, according to data issued today by the United States Department of Commerce and the National Retail Federation (NRF). January data was revised to show sales falling 0.2 percent instead of the previously reported 0.1 percent drop.

Personal consumption and retail spending had disappointed analysts in recent months, feeding expectations the U.S. economy will see slower growth in the first quarter of the year.

USA retail sales rose for the first time in four months in March, boosted by a large increase in automobile purchases, but in real terms were weaker than expected by some economists. March snapped a three-month stretch of sequential declines for monthly retail sales.

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.

Thus, following Monday's report, Barclays's tracking estimate for first quarter US GDP growth fell from an annualised pace of 1.8% to 1.5%. The rise was mainly driven by a 2 percent growth in motor vehicle & parts dealers; however gains were comparatively broad based throughout categories. But most expect it will rebound in the second quarter and top 3 percent. Sales at nonstore retailers grew 0.8% following February's 0.9% increase.

Sales of furniture and home furnishings were also strong, growing by 0.7% versus the month before, alongside an increase of 0.5% in electronics and appliance store sales and a 1.4% jump in spending at health and personal care stores. Bars and restaurants gained 0.4 per cent.

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

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