Retail Sales Bounce Back in March

By at 19 April, 2019, 7:25 am

by Raymond J. Keating-

Retail sales bounced back nicely in March, after a stretch of several sluggish months. This was the largest monthly gain since September of 2017, and it beat market expectations.

As reported by the Census Bureau, U.S. retail and food service sales grew by 1.6 percent in March. That was up from a February decline of 0.2 percent. Even after factoring out strong gains in autos and higher gas prices, retail sales increased by 0.9 percent, which again beat expectations.

Interestingly, one of the factors for slower real GDP growth during the last quarter of 2018 was a slowdown in personal consumption expenditures. The March data is good news, but it also must be noted that for all of the first quarter of 2019, growth was not strong compared to the previous quarter (+0.1 percent) or the same quarter a year earlier (+2.9 percent).

Given the tight labor market and the resulting gains in compensation being experienced, hopefully the March gains will continue in coming months.


Raymond J. Keating is chief economist for the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.


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