Retail Sales Rises More Than Expected In March, Indicate Strong Consumer Spending

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The pace of retail sales growth increased more than expected last month, indicating that consumers are exhibiting increased resilience despite recent inflationary pressures.

Retail and food services sales for March increased by 4% compared to the previous year, much higher than the previous upwardly revised growth rate of 2.1%, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s advance estimates released Monday.

March Retail Sales Report: Key Highlights

  • Retail sales for March 2024 rose to $709.6 billion, up 0.7% on a month-on-month basis, decelerating from the previous upwardly revised 0.9% monthly growth in February and topping the expected 0.3% rise.
  • Compared to March 2023, retail sales saw a 4% increase, marking an acceleration from the previous 2.1% annual growth rate. It marks the strongest reading since December 2023.
  • Items recording the largest month-on-month increases were nonstore retailers, up 2.7%, and gas stations, up 2.1%.
  • Sporting goods, hobby, musical instrument and book stores witnessed a 1.8% monthly drop, followed by clothing & clothing accessories stores, down 1.6%.
  • Excluding auto sales, retail sales advanced at a monthly pace of 1.1%, showing an increase from the upwardly revised rate of 0.6% in February, and sharply beating expectations of 0.4%.
  • Excluding auto sales and gas stations, retail sales advanced at a monthly pace of 1%, marking an increase from the previous upwardly revised rate of 0.5% and topping estimates of 0.3%.

Market Reactions

Major U.S. averages traded higher during premarket trading on Monday as investors found relief in the absence of an imminent counterattack by Israel following Iran’s attacks over the weekend.

Futures on the S&P 500 index were up 0.8% at 8:35 a.m. in New York, indicating an attempt at a rebound after Friday’s 1.4% drop, which marked the worst session of the year so far.

The U.S. dollar index (DXY), as tracked by the Invesco DB USD Index Bullish Fund ETF (NYSE:UUP), inched higher following the retail sales report, backed by rising Treasury yields.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury note soared 9 basis points to 4.61%, reaching the highest since mid November 2023.

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