Automobiles power USA retail sales in March

March Retail Sales Rose 4.5% YOY

Gasoline station sales are up 9.7% since March 2017. Year-over-year core sales increased 4.5%. The March results build on improvement seen in February, which was up 0.2% over January and 4.3% year over year. Non-store retailers - primarily e-commerce and catalog businesses - and gas stations tied for the best gain, each with sales up 9.7% from March previous year.

"Our latest Quarterly Forecast calls for healthy consumer spending through the remainder of 2018, with growth in the neighborhood of 2.5 percent-3.0 percent annualized", added TD Economics.

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).

Among the brightest spots in Monday's report was auto sales, which jumped 2 percent, the most in six months.

Sales at gasoline stations declined 0.3% during March after growing 0.1% in February.


Retail sales are closely watched by economists because they provide an early read on consumer spending, the principal driver of the US economy. But most expect it will rebound in the second quarter and top 3 percent.

Even with the bounce back, consumer spending probably expanded at a slower pace in the first quarter. The rise was mainly driven by a 2 percent growth in motor vehicle & parts dealers; however gains were comparatively broad based throughout categories.

Looking into the details, sales for furniture, electronics and appliances, health and personal care, and non-store retailers rose in the month.

Weaker sales categories included building-material stores, which fell 0.6%; apparel stores, down 0.8%; and sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores, off 1.8%, the most since December, the data showed. Sales at restaurants and bars gained 0.4 percent.

"This month's decline in the Empire State six-month forward index may reflect trade-related uncertainties and the associated volatility of stocks, or other factors", said Roiana Reid, an economist at Berenberg Capital Markets in NY.

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