“Consumers have demonstrated the desire and ability to spend on discretionary items, further helping to spur economic and retail sales growth in the first quarter of 2012,” says Matthew Shay, president and CEO, NRF. “While retailers will wait until the end of April to gauge the success of the spring shopping season, it’s evident that consumers are holding their own against rising gas prices and other economic concerns.”
The findings, which exclude non-general merchandise categories such as automobiles, gas stations and restaurants, coincide with retail sales released by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Other results from the report conclude:
- Building materials and garden equipment sales increased 3 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 12.4 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
- Clothing and accessories sales increased 0.9 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 12.5 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
- Spring goods, hobby, book and music store sales increased 0.5 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 8.9 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
- Furniture and home furnishings increased 1.1 percent adjusted month-to-month and 7.9 percent unadjusted year-over-year.
“Moderate retail sales growth in March will help to offset murkier recent economic employment data,” says Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist, NRF. “We expect to see gains through the all-important summer months, but job and weak income growth coupled with stubbornly high gas costs will continue to force consumers to make tough, price-sensitive choices.”