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    Retail Industry Sales Increase in March

    National Retail Federation describes consumers as confident but cautious.

    WASHINGTON -- Retail industry sales were up across the board in March, from clothing to electronics to building materials and more, announced the National Retail Federation. NRF found that retail industry sales (excluding automobiles, gas stations and restaurants) in March increased 0.6 percent seasonally adjusted from February and 3.9 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

    "Shoppers last month were eager to take advantage of retailers' spring promotions on everything from apparel to outdoor furniture," said NRF President and CEO Matthew Shay. "While current indicators point to a more confident consumer, increasing gas prices and a cramped job market could hamper consumer spending during the upcoming summer months, a key time of year for retailers."

    Sales statistics released by the U.S. Commerce Department show that total retail sales in March increased 0.4 percent seasonally adjusted over February and 7.3 percent unadjusted year-over-year. Warmer spring weather helped increase sales of building material, garden equipment and supplies dealers' products 2.2 percent seasonally adjusted from February and 5.5 percent unadjusted over last year, said NRF. Sales of clothing and accessories increased 0.6 percent seasonally adjusted month-to-month and 3.4 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

    "Improving financial situations including the temporary payroll tax cut, wage gains and a strengthening labor market likely supported March spending gains," added NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. "If gasoline prices can stabilize over the next few months, consumer spending may continue to grow, but it remains to be seen what consumers will cut out of their budgets because of the cost of filling up their tank."

    Other store categories that saw gains include electronics and appliances stores, in which sales increased 2.1 percent seasonally adjusted from February and 3.6 percent unadjusted over last year; grocery stores, where sales increased 0.3 percent seasonally adjusted from February and 4.1 percent unadjusted year-over-year; health and personal care stores, where sales increased 0.7 percent seasonally adjusted over February and 5.1 percent unadjusted over last year; and furniture and home furnishings stores, where sales increased 3.6 percent seasonally adjusted from February and 3.8 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

     

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