March retail sales brighten the economic outlook
U.S. retail sales increased 1.1% in March, the biggest month-over-month gain since September 2012 and a long-awaited sign of an economic thaw after an especially challenging winter.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, advance estimates of retail and food services sales for March, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences (but not for price changes) were $433.9 billion. This is a 3.8% improvement above March 2013.
Retail trade sales themselves were up 1.1% from February and 3.7% from last year.
For the three-month period of January through March 2014, non-store retailers experienced the biggest year-over-year percentage gain at 6.6%, followed by auto & other motor vehicle dealers (5.8%).
Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores declined the most year-over-year at -6.3%.
Building material and garden equipment & supplies dealers were up a healthy 3.6%, netting $65.7 billion for the quarter. For the month of March, the category was above average, up 1.8% for the month and up 5.7% for the year.