Retail sales continued to move upward in March as tax refunds and job growth put more consumers in a spending mood. New data from U.S. Census Bureau showed that overall retail sales in March rose by 0.7 percent, seasonally adjusted, from February. This is an increase of 4 percent, unadjusted year-over-year. This continues to build on the positive numbers seen in February when retail sales rose 0.9 percent month- over-month and 2.1 percent year-over-year. 

An early Easter also pushed retail sales in a positive direction as consumers hit the stores to purchase food, candy and décor for the holiday. 

“March’s Census Bureau numbers confirm that consumer spending remains steady, underscoring a resilient consumer despite inflationary pressure,” said National Retail Federation chief economist Jack Kleinhenz. 

Excluding automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants, March core retail sales rose 1.1 percent in March and 3.2 percent year-over-year. Meanwhile, core retail sales rose 3.9 percent year-over-year, based on a three-month moving average as of March. 

Earlier this month, VMAIL reported that core March sales had risen 0.23 percent, seasonally adjusted from February, and were up 2.92 percent unadjusted year-over-year. That compared with increases of 0.27 percent month-over-month and 2.99 percent year-over-year in February.

“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,” said Kleinhenz. “Nonetheless, the increasing share of consumer spending going to services remains a stubborn problem because it leaves less household income available to spend on retail goods.”