ibusinesslines.com October 15, 2018

Economy Watch: Retail Sales See Healthy Uptick in March

16 April 2018, 11:04 | Kelvin Horton

Economy Watch: Retail Sales See Healthy Uptick in March

President Donald Trump signed a presidential memorandum imposing tariffs and investment restrictions on China a month

Auto sales surged in March, sending the U.S. retail sector higher for the first time in four months, helped by increased spending in other areas, according to government data released on Monday (Apr 16).

U.S. 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. Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal expected a 0.3% increase.

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).

The other major winning retail category for the month was health and personal care stores, which spiked 1.4 percent compared with February. That supports the Federal Reserve's view that such weakness was transitory, as well as the central bank's outlook for two or three more interest-rate increases this year following a quarter-point hike in March. "If you look at the quarter as a whole, we're not breaking out from the kind of real spending numbers we've seen the last several years". Sales at non-store retailers grew 9.7 percent year-on-year, led by sound rises in online shopping.

Grocery and beverage stores were up 5.9% year-over-year and up 0.2% from February.

Consumer optimism is high due to factors like job market strength, rising wages, lower taxes and the receipt of tax refunds. Sales also dropped at gasoline stations, but rose modest on a year-on-year basis by 10 percent. March snapped a three-month stretch of sequential declines for monthly retail sales.

Core retail sales - excluding automobiles and parts - rose 0.2%. The numbers for March suggest consumers are once again willing to spend that to a mixture of good economic news and the impact of the tax cuts passed late previous year.

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