March US sales boost signals more optimism

US Retail Sales Rose 0.6% in March

Retail Sales Rose 0.6% in March

That's more than double the overall retail sales gain in the past 12 months of 4.5 percent.

Auto sales surged in March, sending the United States 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). That compared with the median estimate of economists for a 0.4 percent increase.

Auto sales gained two per cent, the biggest increase in six months. "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". Sales at health and personal-care stores rose 1.4 percent, the most in two years. Refunds from 2017 returns may have also given retail sales a boost in March.

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Consumers shook off stormy weather last month to deliver retail sales growth. It is expected to have slowed to below a 1.5 percent rate of increase in the first quarter. This was borne out in the "control group" used in calculating GDP, which excludes gasoline, autos, building materials, and food services, and was up a sound 0.4 percent on the month, matching market projections. "People were so built up on the economy and tax cuts, but our view is that it's more steady than acceleration".

Consumers snapped up electronics, shopped online and frequented bars and restaurants, but sales sagged at department stores, gas stations and clothing outlets, according to the Commerce Department report. Compared with March 2017, the total is 4.7 percent higher.

Clothing and clothing accessory stores were up 6.1 percent year-over-year but down 0.8 percent from February seasonally adjusted.

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