Air Freight News

Census data shows retail sales grew in March amid early easter, bigger tax refunds and more jobs

Apr 15, 2024

Data released by the U.S. Census Bureau today shows retail sales continued to increase in March as tax refunds and job growth put more money in shoppers’ pockets, National Retail Federation Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said.

“March’s Census Bureau numbers confirm that consumer spending remains steady, underscoring a resilient consumer despite inflationary pressure,” Kleinhenz said. “While sales were mixed, several factors supported retail sales including an early Easter holiday, slightly larger 2023 tax refunds and stronger payroll growth over the last three months. Nonetheless, the increasing share of consumer spending going to services as prices for services rise remains a stubborn problem because it leaves less household income available to spend on retail goods.”

The Census Bureau said overall retail sales in March were up 0.7% seasonally adjusted from January and up 4% unadjusted year over year. That compared with increases of 0.9% month over month and 2.1% year over year in February.

March’s core retail sales as defined by NRF – based on the Census data but excluding automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants – were up 1.1% seasonally adjusted from February and up 3.2% unadjusted year over year. Core retail sales were up 3.9% unadjusted year over year on a three-month moving average as of March.

On Friday, the CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor, powered by Affinity Solutions, reported that March sales grew at a steady pace. The Retail Monitor found core February retail sales were up 0.23% seasonally adjusted from February and up 2.92% unadjusted year over year. That compared with increases of 0.27% month over month and 2.99% year over year in February.

As the leading authority and voice for the retail industry, NRF provides data on retail sales each month and also forecasts annual retail sales and spending for key periods such as the holiday season each year.

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