During a strong month for retail in general, sales in the building materials, home centers, hardware stores and garden supply category were up 12.1% in March, compared to February on an adjusted basis.
The monthly statistics were released Thursday by the U.S. Census Bureau.
On an unadjusted basis, March sales for the same NAICS 444 category of retailers were up 32.4%. The NAICS 444 retailers achieved March sales of an estimated $43,812 million, up from $33,087 million in the same month last year.
“Today’s data confirms reports that people are going out and spending and that in-store traffic has picked up,” National Retail Federation Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “After a disappointing February, there was a perfect alignment of factors supporting a surge in shopping in March.”
Among those factors were government checks that fattened consumers’ bank accounts and more vaccination against COVID-19 that made it easier for shoppers to get out of the house and lead the acceleration of the U.S. economy, the National Retail Federation said.
While NAICS 444 sales surged 32.4%, the category didn’t grow as fast as other retail sectors on a year-over-year basis:
• Clothing stores up 104.6%;
• Sporting goods, up 78.2%;
• Furniture and home furnishings stores, up 49.6%.
The total retail industry in March was up a dramatic 17.7%, unadjusted, on a year-over-year basis.
“American households are clearly feeling the full effect of additional fiscal stimulus, gains in the job market and the reopening of the economy,” NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay said. “Although there have been some recent issues related to vaccines, consumer confidence remains high and an optimistic outlook for the future continues to grow. Retailers remain committed, transparent and emphatic about prioritizing customer and employee safety as they welcome shoppers back into their stores this spring.”