March Retail Sales Disappoint as Retailers Wrap up First Quarter, According to NRF

everal months of stronger-than-expected retail sales provided hope that the industry was poised to bounce back, but March retail sales demonstrate that the industry is continuing to struggle. According to the National Retail Federation, retail industry sales for March (which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) decreased 0.6 percent seasonally adjusted from February and dropped 3.7 percent unadjusted over last year.
Author:
Updated:
Original:

Washington – Several months of stronger-than-expected retail sales provided hope that the industry was poised to bounce back, but March retail sales demonstrate that the industry is continuing to struggle. According to the National Retail Federation, retail industry sales for March (which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) decreased 0.6 percent seasonally adjusted from February and dropped 3.7 percent unadjusted over last year.

March retail sales released today by the U.S. Commerce Department show total retail sales (which include non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations and restaurants) decreased 1.1 percent seasonally adjusted over February and decreased 10.6 percent unadjusted year-over-year. Retail industry sales for February were revised upward, increasing 0.3% instead of dipping 0.1% as originally reported.

“A chilly start to spring and a late Easter combined for dreary March sales,” said Rosalind Wells, Chief Economist for NRF. “To compensate for the Easter shift, retailers typically look at March and April together to get a better look at how their stores performed. Easter should give a much-needed boost to April sales.”

One of the only bright spots in March came from health and personal care stores, whose sales increased 0.4 percent seasonally adjusted over last month and 3.5 percent unadjusted over last year. Food and beverage stores sales also increased 0.5 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month but decreased 1.8 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

The shift in Easter sales also played a role in consumer purchases of clothing and clothing accessories. Sales at those stores decreased 1.8 percent seasonally adjusted from February and decreased 8.7 percent unadjusted over March 2008. Electronics and appliance stores sales decreased 5.9 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and decreased 10.0 percent unadjusted year-over-year. Sales at sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores also decreased 0.9 percent seasonally adjusted over last month and decreased 3.0 percent unadjusted over last year.

The National Retail Federation is the world's largest retail trade association, with membership that comprises all retail formats and channels of distribution including department, specialty, discount, catalog, Internet, independent stores, chain restaurants, drug stores and grocery stores as well as the industry's key trading partners of retail goods and services. NRF represents an industry with more than 1.6 million U.S. retail establishments, more than 24 million employees - about one in five American workers - and 2008 sales of $4.6 trillion. As the industry umbrella group, NRF also represents more than 100 state, national and international retail associations. www.nrf.com.

Related

March Retail Sales Stronger Than Anticipated, According to NRF

Washington – Surging past expectations, retail sales continued to show signs of improvement as consumers hit the stores for seasonal home goods, furniture and apparel. According to the National Retail Federation, March retail industry sales (which exclude automobiles, gas ...read more

January Retail Sales Continue Slow Road to Recovery, According to NRF

Washington, February 12, 2010 – Post holiday sales and gift cards helped consumers open up their wallets to take advantage of special deals on popular apparel, electronics and sporting goods items. According to the National Retail Federation, January retail industry sales (which ...read more

Late Black Friday, Shorter Holiday Season Impact November Retail Sales, According to NRF

Washington – While shoppers were out and about Black Friday weekend, they kept their pennies to themselves the rest of the month with November retail sales showing continued consumer restraint. According to the National Retail Federation, retail industry sales for November ...read more

Financial Crisis Freezes Consumer Spending in October, According to NRF

Washington - As expected, consumers went into hibernation as the full scope of the financial crisis took hold in October. According to the National Retail Federation, retail industry sales for October (which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) decreased 0.5 ...read more

Consumers Show Surprising Resilience in July, but Outlook Still Murky According to NRF

Washington – Weary shoppers returned to the stores in July as retailers as were aggressively promoting back-to-school sales. Retail industry sales for July (which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) increased 3.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year and also declined ...read more

Retailers Report Weak August as Sales Increase Just 1.1 Percent Over Last Year

Washington – Retailers' summer started off with a bang but ended with a whimper. According to the National Retail Federation, retail industry sales for August (which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) decreased 0.3 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and ...read more

Slow Turnaround in Economy Not Enough to Change Consumer Shopping Habits, According to NRF

Consumers need more proof that the economy is slowly turning around as April retail sales show people continuing to cut back on their discretionary spending. According to the National Retail Federation, retail industry sales for April (which exclude automobiles, gas stations, and ...read more

Modest September Sales Gains Reflect Conservative Consumer, According to NRF

Washington, October 12, 2007 - Though September sales gains were moderate,they were better than expected, giving retailers a welcome surprise as theyhead into the ever-important holiday season. According to the NationalRetail Federation, retail industry sales for September (which ...read more

July Retail Sales Stronger Than Expected, According to NRF

Washington, August 13, 2007 – Driven by back-to-school spending on electronics, apparel and other necessities, July retail sales rebounded from a slow start to the summer. According to the National Retail Federation, retail industry sales for July (which exclude automobiles, ...read more