United States: Retail sales accelerate to 18-month high in March
April 15, 2014
In March, retail sales increased 1.1% over the previous month in nominal terms. The print followed the 0.7% expansion recorded in February (previously reported: +0.3% month-on-month) and slightly beat market expectations of a 0.9% rise. The increase marked the best monthly gain since September 2012, which suggests that the economy has made a strong recovery following the unseasonably cold winter. 10 of the 13 categories included in the retail sales index increased over the previous month. Motor vehicle dealers registered a notable 3.1% gain, followed by an increase in building material and garden supplier stores.
Retail sales excluding cars and gas-a closely watched subcategory of the retail trade index-expanded 1.0% over the previous month in March. The reading more than doubled the 0.4% increase registered in February (previously reported: +0.3% mom) and overshot market expectations of a 0.5% increase.
Retail sales rose 3.8% compared to the same month last year and came in well above the revised 1.8% increase recorded in February (previously reported: +1.5% year-on-year). The annual trend marked a turnaround, with annual average growth in retail sales rising from 3.8% in February to 3.9% in March.
FocusEconomics Consensus Forecast panelists expect private consumption to grow 2.5% in 2014, which is unchanged from last month's forecast. For 2015, the panel sees private consumption increasing 2.7%.
Author: Carl Kelly, Economist