US March retail sales rise 1.6% to highest level in two years

US retail numbers in March recover after a dismal report in February.

US dollar after US March retail sales Source: Bloomberg

US retail sales grew in March, rebounding from disappointing figures in February. The US Commerce Department noted that sales rose 1.6%. The statistics are the highest increase for retail since 2017.

US March retail sales:key figures

New car sales +3.1%
Gas sales +3.5%
Online businesses +1.2%
Restaurants +0.8%

Where did US March retail sales rise?

US retail sales jumped after new car sales increased after a decline in February. New car sales grew by 3.1% to its highest amount in 2019, and auto sales jumped 3.5%. Online businesses saw increases of 1.2% and restaurants saw customer growth of 4%. The only downside of the rise of retail was a surge in oil prices causing gas sales to increase by 3.5%.

What do the US March retail statistics mean for the economy?

The US March retail statistics likely are related to consumer confidence about the steady employment rate. The impressive retail numbers likely also mean that the improved spring weather led to Americans going out more to make purchases. Jim Baird, chief investment officer at Plante Moran Financial Advisors, said that the US March retail numbers mean that the concerns about the US economy are premature.

‘The bottom line is this: fears about the softening in the economy late last year were overblown. Taken in its totality, a broad swathe of data still paints a largely positive picture’, said Baird.

Though the rate of retail growth is not as high as last year’s 4%, Baird said that the US March retail sales numbers should alleviate concerns about a recession.

‘Certainly, the pace of growth has slowed, but there’s still a vast difference between slower growth and no growth,’ said Baird.


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