United States: Retail sales remain weak in March
April 13, 2016
In March, nominal retail sales fell 0.3% over the previous month. The result came in below the revised flat reading recorded in February and contrasted the 0.1% gain the markets had expected. Retail sales are a good indicator of the evolution of consumer spending, a key part of economic growth in the United States, as it accounts for over two thirds of overall GDP.
The softness in March was the result of a contraction in sales of motor vehicles, which dropped 2.1% over the previous month, as well as in clothing and footwear. Conversely, sales at gasoline stations increased in March, partly helped by higher sales of gasoline.
Retail sales ex-autos, car parts and products sold in gas stations slowed from a revised 0.6% month-on-month increase in February (previously reported: +0.3% mom) to a 0.1% rise in March.
On an annual basis, retail sales decelerated notably, from a revised 3.7% increase in February (previously reported: +3.1% year-on-year) to a 1.7% expansion in March. The result marked the slowest pace since November 2015.
Author: Ricardo Aceves, Senior Economist