The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for March, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $371.6 billion, an increase of 0.7 percent (±0.7%)* from the previous month and up 3.8 percent (±0.7%) from March 2006. Total sales for the January through March 2007 period were up 3.2 percent (±0.5%) from the same period a year ago. The January 2007 to February 2007 percent change was revised from 0.1 percent (± 0.7%)* to 0.5 percent (± 0.2%).
Retail trade sales were up 0.6 percent (±0.7%)* from February 2007 and were 3.6 percent (±0.8%) above last year. Clothing and clothing accessories stores were up 8.0 percent (±1.5%) from March 2006 and sales of general merchandise stores were up 5.8 percent (±0.2%) from last year.
Here's the chart from the same report:
Let's look at the numbers in a bit more detail.
1.) These are preliminary numbers; they could be restated in the future.
2.) The only area to see a decrease was electronics and appliance stores, which decreased 1.9%.
3.) Building materials/supplies increased 1.4%. My guess is this is a spring cleaning/repairing increase. Also note that sales dropped .2% in the February from January category, implying some of this months increase might be a make-up from the lost sales.
4.) Gas stations saw a 3.1% increase. I'm not sure how much of this is due to the increasing cost of gasoline, but I would guess that plays a part.
5.) All other categories look at worst pretty good. In short, this is a good report for the market.
The main reason for this increase is probably the personal income increased over the last few months:
Personal income increased $65.4 billion, or 0.6 percent, and disposable personal income (DPI) increased $53.8 billion, or 0.5 percent, in February, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. Personal consumption expenditures (PCE) increased $55.5 billion, or 0.6 percent. In January, personal income increased $110.5 billion, or 1.0 percent, DPI increased $74.2 billion, or 0.8 percent, and PCE increased $50.2 billion, or 0.5 percent, based on revised estimates.