Retail spending by households stayed on a stronger pace in March led by home improvement, drug, and big-box stores while apparel stores lagged, according to the latest U.S. retail numbers.
Growth outside of traditional retail stores reversed its recent pattern in March as spending at restaurants and auto dealers weakened month-to-month. Conversely, sales at gasoline stations picked up month-to-month.
- In March, seasonally adjusted sales excluding autos, fuel, and food service was up a relatively healthy 3.9% from a year ago. That is better than the 3.6% average pace for 2015. These measures exclude gasoline and fuel dealers.
- Springtime spending drove up sales at home improvement stores 1.4% month-to-month and 10.8% year-to-year in March, which led all retail store segments outside of online sales.
- Clothing and accessory stores were among the laggards, down nearly a full percentage point month-to-month and nearly flat year-to-year.
- Big-box stores—mass retail and department stores—were up a healthy 0.5% month-to-month, although year-to-year growth remains weak at a bit over 1.0%. Grocery store sales also remain relatively weak.
See the table summary for more detail.
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