Retail sales swung from a one percent decline in February, which many attributed to unseasonably cold temperatures, to an increase in March, helped by the long-awaited arrival of spring weather in many regions of the country.
According to data released Tuesday by the Commerce Department, total retail sales increased by 0.9% in March compared to February. On a 12-month smoothed basis, sales were flat. Year-over-year, retail sales rose by 1.3% from March 2014, to $441 billion.
According to Big Data supplier RetailNext, although fewer people visited stores than last year, those who did tended to buy more. Brick-and-mortar store traffic dropped by 8.2% in March compared to the same month last year, average transaction value rose by 3.5%, and sales per shopper jumped by 5.8%. Retail sales were strongest in the last week of the month. Warm weather drove many people into stores looking for seasonal merchandise. Store traffic declined in all key regions of the county in the month, with the biggest declines in the South and Northeast.
March 7 was the biggest individual sales and traffic day of the month, while March 3 was the slowest.
The Commerce Department also reported that total retail inventory increased by 2.5% percent in February, the most recent month for which that measure is available, resulting in a slight rise in the inventory-to-sales ratio.
Auto sales bounced back in the month, rising by 4.8%, compared to flat growth in February. Excluding autos, retail sales dropped by 1.1% on a smoothed basis.
Department, chain and discount stores saw sales drop by 1.5% on a smoothed basis, a big improvement over February’s decline of more than 4 percent.
Apparel specialty stores recovered nicely from their flat performance in February to turn in a 2.1% increase in March, no doubt helped by the arrival of spring fashions. The combined department and specialty sector saw a 0.7% increase in sales on a 12-month smoothed basis, up from a 1.6% decline in the prior month.
In a time when apparel brand and retailers are struggling, companies are leaving money on the table because they don’t truly understand costing.Read more
Detecting sustainable clothing is possible with a new smartphone feature.Read more
In the sustainable sector, where provenance is king, findings and notions have often been left out of the discussion—until now.Read more
With healthcare DOA, the President Trump has now vowed to focus on tax reform—an issue that many have said is closer to his heart than the American Health Care Act.Read more
If certain labor issues don’t shape up in short order, Bangladesh could start paying at least 12.5% duty on its exports to the European Union.Read more
The blurred line between digital and reality influences Brazilian-based mill Vicunha’s direction for Spring/Summer ’18. Plus, Calvin Klein's international sales outperform North America.Read more