Retail Stores Sales $598.6 Billion in March, Down by 1.2 Percent – NKBA


Retail Stores Sales $598.6 Billion in March, Down by 1.2 Percent

By Manuel Gutierrez, Consulting Economist to NKBA

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, sales at retail stores fell by 1.2 percent in March to $598.6 billion, a reduction from the all-time sales high of $605.6 billion reached in February. This is an economic metric that tracks consumer demand for finished goods. Sales were either flat or down in four of the last five months. Compared to a year earlier, sales in March were 1.6 percent higher.

  • Sales were down across most categories, except for four of them. Internet & Mail Order sales saw the highest month over month increase, rising by 1.9 percent — and they were also up by 12.4 percent from the previous year. Sales were $115.6 billion, representing almost one in five retail dollars (19 percent).
  • Health & Personal Care stores sales went up by 0.3 percent in March, rising to $35 billion. Sporting Goods, Hobby, Musical Instruments & Bookstores had sales of $9.4 billion, which were up 0.2 percent. Restaurants & Bars, totalling $93.1 billion sales, increased by 0.1 percent.
  • The sales data identified only two categories that are of primary interest to our membership: Building Materialsand Electronics and Appliances. Sales at building materials stores, which also include garden equipment and supply dealers, fell by 2.1 percent in March to $41.5 billion. Sales of building materials have declined since October, when they reached their highest volume ever at $43.5 billion.
  • Electronics & Appliances stores sales fell by 2.1 percent to $6.9 billion. Sales in this group fell every month since May of last year — with the exception of January, when they were up 5.9 percent. In general, sales at specialized outlets such as Electronics & Appliances stores have lost market share to internet websites and home improvement stores.
  • On an annual basis, Restaurants & Barssaw the largest gain in sales, rising by 13.9 percent and totalling $93.1 billion. Another category with a large gain was Food & Beverage, which generated $81.3 billion in sales, up by 5.6 percent year-over-year. The largest store type within the Food & Beverage group is Grocery Stores, which accounted for $72.9 billion and was up 5.8 percent.