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March retail sales make a significant rebound, surpassing expectations

Monday, Apr 19, 2021

US retail sales have jumped 18% in March – surpassing expectations and showing clear signs of an industry-wide rebound, according to the National Retail Federation. 

“The dramatic increase of nearly 18% in March retail sales over the same period last year confirms that a confident consumer is driving the economic rebound, and that should continue through the remainder of 2021,” said Matthew Shay, NRF President and Chief Executive Officer.

In comparison, the US Census Bureau’s results indicate a 9.8% increase in retail sales, up 27.7% year-over-year. Sales have grown year-over-year every month since June 2020, according to Census data.

“Today’s data confirms reports that people are going out and spending and that in-store traffic has picked up. After a disappointing February, there was a perfect alignment of factors supporting a surge in shopping in March,” said NRF Chief Economist, Jack Kleinhenz.

Specifics from key retail sectors include:

  • Clothing and clothing accessory stores were up 18.3% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 104.6%t unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Sporting goods stores were up 23.5% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 78.2% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores were up 5.9% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 49.6%t unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Building materials and garden supply stores were up 12.1% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 32.4% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Online and other non-store sales were up 6% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 30.7%t unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Electronics and appliance stores were up 10.5% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 29.4% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Health and personal care stores were up 5.7% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 7.7%  unadjusted year-over-year.
  • General merchandise stores were up 9% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 6.1% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Grocery and beverage stores were up 0.7% month-over-month seasonally adjusted but down 10.2% unadjusted year-over-year.

The biggest winners in retail have been the discretionary categories – specifically sporting goods, home furniture stores, and clothing stores. The pandemic has sparked more interest among consumers to buy from these secto. 

There has been various data released that points to retail’s strength in sales. Imports are now at record levels to support the surge that is predicted to take place in the industry this upcoming season. Insights from Mastercard SpendingPulse™ also noted a significant increase for the retail sector, up 27% year-over-year, according to their data. 

Recent Placer.ai and IBM data showed that consumers are eager to shop from brick-and-mortar stores, with an 86% increase for traffic in malls year-over-year. And because of this, e-commerce sales are weakening. As a post-pandemic setting approaches, there will be an influx of shoppers and an even higher increase in overall sales. 

Source: March Retail Sales – BusinessWire, 3 Takeaways – Motley Fool
Photo Credit: Unsplash

About NRF 
The National Retail Federation, the world’s largest retail trade association, passionately advocates for the people, brands, policies and ideas that help retail thrive. From its headquarters in Washington, D.C., NRF empowers the industry that powers the economy. Retail is the nation’s largest private-sector employer, contributing $3.9 trillion to annual GDP and supporting one in four U.S. jobs – 52 million working Americans. For over a century, NRF has been a voice for every retailer and every retail job, educating, inspiring and communicating the powerful impact retail has on local communities and global economies.

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