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NRF: March sales show slight sales decline

Furniture and home furnishing stores buck the trend

Washington D.C. - The persistent cold weather over many parts of the country cast a chill on March retail sales, which decreased 0.2% seasonally adjusted from last month and increased 1.6% unadjusted year-over-year, according to the National Retail Federation.
Other matters that hindered the month's sales, NRF added, particularly the expiration of the payroll tax holiday.
Despite the overall trend, furniture and home furnishing stores' sales increased 0.9% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and increased 0.8% unadjusted year-over-year.
Other segments showed mixed results. They include:

  • Building material & garden equipment and supplies dealers stores: up 0.1% seasonally-adjusted and down 2.1% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Clothing and clothing accessories stores: up 0.1% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and down 3.1% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Electronics and appliance stores: down 1.6% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and down 4.5% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • General merchandise stores: down 1.2% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and down 3.6% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Health and personal care stores: down 0.3 seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and down 0.8 % unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Non-store retailers: up 0.3% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and up 10.1% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores: down 0.8% seasonally-adjusted month-to-month and down 4.5 % unadjusted year-over-year.

March retail sales released today by the U.S. Department of Commerce showed total retail and food services sales, which include non-general merchandise categories such as automobiles, gasoline stations, and restaurants, decreased 0.4% seasonally adjusted month-to-month and increased 2.8% adjusted year-over-year.

"The fall off in spending is no surprise," said Jack Kleinhenz, NRF chief economist. "A colder-than-usual winter, an anemic employment picture and delays in tax refunds impacted consumer spending across the board in March. While we remain optimistic that retail sales will grow modestly this year, it seems like the economy is off to a shaky start as we enter the second quarter. Improving housing prices and lower gas prices may help to offset the toll of increased taxes and sequester."

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