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March Retail Sales Growth Starts Spring On Positive Note

WASHINGTON - An earlier Easter holiday and unseasonably warm weather throughout much of the country were credited with helping retailers post solid sales growth in March, noted the National Retail Federation.
     According to NRF, March retail industry sales, excluding automobiles, gas stations and restaurants, increased 0.8% seasonally adjusted from February and 6.6% unadjusted year-over year.
     "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," said Matthew Shay, NRF president and ceo. "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 U.S. Department of Commerce recently released March retail sales that showed total retail sales, which includes non-general merchandise categories such as automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants, increased 0.8% adjusted month-to-month and 7.4% unadjusted year-over-year.
     "Moderate retail sales growth in March will help to offset murkier recent economic employment data," NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said. "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."
     Here are some other findings from the March retail sales numbers:
     • Furniture and home furnishings stores sales increased 1.1% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 7.9% unadjusted year-over-year.
     • Building material and garden equipment and supplies dealers' sales increased 3.0% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 12.4% unadjusted year-over-year.
     • Clothing and clothing accessories stores sales increased 0.9% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 12.5% unadjusted year-over-year.
     • Spring goods, hobby, book and music stores' sales increased 0.5% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and 8.9% unadjusted year-over-year.

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