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Commerce Dept., NRF confirm slowing retail sales  

Washington – Retail sales in March dipped 0.9% unadjusted over last year and were down 0.3% from the prior month, according to U.S. Commerce Dept. figures seen through the lens of the National Retail Federation, which strips out sales at car dealers, gas stations, and restaurants.

Even including those three categories, Commerce figures for March showed just a 0.1% unadjusted year-over-year rise and a 0.2% seasonally adjusted rise from the previous month.

“With the earliest Easter in 95 years, the calendar shift will likely impact April sales as well,” said NRF chief economist Rosalind Wells. “In order to get a true picture of retail performance, we will need to look at both March and April sales combined.”

The weak housing market once again had a negative effect on the home furnishing and home improvement categories.

The NRF pointed out that sales at furniture and home furnishing stores decreased 10.2% unadjusted year-over-year and fell 0.3% seasonally adjusted from last month.

Building material, garden equipment and supplies stores sales decreased 9.6% unadjusted from last March and fell 1.6% seasonally adjusted from February.

Of the 15 major chains tracked by HTT on a monthly comparable store basis, nine last week reported negative comp store sales for March.

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