Published: Tue, April 17, 2018
Economy | By

US Retail Sales Climb More Than Expected On Rebound In Auto Sales

US Retail Sales Climb More Than Expected On Rebound In Auto Sales

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 slowdown follows a 4 percent jump in consumer spending in the final three months of 2017, the strongest gain in three years.

Core retail sales - excluding automobiles and parts - rose 0.2%.

With auto sales rebounding strongly, the Commerce Department released a report on Monday showing retail sales in the USA increased by more than anticipated in the month of March. Sales at non-store retailers grew 9.7 percent year-on-year, led by sound rises in online shopping.

Commerce reported that March was up 0.6% compared to February at $494.6 billion and was up 4.5% compared to March 2017. So-called retail control-group sales, which are used to calculate gross domestic product and exclude food services, auto dealers, building-materials stores and gasoline stations, gained 0.4 percent, matching estimates. Sales also improved stores that sell furniture, electronics, restaurants, grocery stores, and personal care. On Monday, the Commerce Department released US retail sales data for March. Some also argue that income tax cuts which came into effect in January, only reflected on most workers' pay cheques in late February.

Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of US economic activity, grew at a robust 4.0 percent annualized rate in the fourth quarter.

A solid March result helps in setting the second quarter up for a healthy rebound with consumer spending expected to expand by around 3 percent, stated TD Economics.

Economists forecast overall economic growth slowed to below 2 percent at an annual pace in the first quarter, after a 2.9 percent gain in the fourth quarter. The economy expanded at a 2.9 percent pace in the October-December quarter. Receipts at service stations fell 0.3 percent, reflecting cheaper gasoline. That compared with the median estimate of economists for a 0.4 percent increase.

Building materials and garden supply stores were up 3.8% year-over-year but down 0.6% from February seasonally adjusted. Receipts at sporting goods and hobby stores dropped 1.8 percent.

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