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Retail Sales Rise Slowly in March

By NAM News Room

Retail sales grew by a smaller amount in March than the previous month, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. NAM Chief Economist Chad Moutray took us through what it all means.

By the numbers: “Retail sales grew 0.5% in March, slowing from 0.8% growth in February,” said Moutray.

  • But “gasoline station sales soared 8.9% in March, buoyed by higher prices. With gasoline station sales excluded, retail spending fell 0.3%.”
  • “Automotive sales were also lower, down 1.9% in March, as the motor vehicle sector continued to grapple with supply chain issues and the chip shortage.”
  • “Excluding motor vehicles and parts and gasoline stations, retail sales increased 0.2% for the month.”

Long-term growth: “The year-over-year comparisons were largely favorable, consistent with the opening of the economy and with pent-up demand and excess savings,” said Moutray.

  • “Indeed, retail spending has risen 6.9% year-over-year, or 6.2% with gasoline stations and motor vehicles and parts sales excluded.”

A mixed bag: “These data provided mixed news on the consumer, with spending pulled lower by weaker sales at auto dealers and nonstore retailers,” said Moutray.

  • “Yet retail sales grew overall despite higher prices and consumer worries about inflation. In addition, the larger trend remained a positive one, with significant gains in spending seen over the past year.”
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