Retail sales disappoint in March; home flat
By Don Hogsett -- Home Textiles Today, 4/22/2002 12:00:00 AM
Despite persistent signs of a turn in the U.S. economy, Americans continued to spend at a relatively subdued level during March, the Commerce Department reported, with overall retail sales edging ahead a skimpy 0.2 percent, held back by a downturn in car sales.
Excluding the volatile auto sector, retail sales ticked up by 0.3 percent, to a seasonally adjusted level of $269.7 billion.
Either way you look at the numbers, with or without car sales, March was something of a disappointment and failed to live up to analysts' expectations of about 0.4 percent growth in retail sales.
After jumping up steadily during the past several months, sales of furniture and home furnishings were relatively flat in March, slipping by 0.2 percent, and giving up some of the impressive gains racked up in recent months. During February, sales in the burgeoning home goods channel soared up by 1.5 percent, making it the single strongest channel in all of American retailing for that month.
But other home-related categories were still gaining strength, as electronics and appliance stores increased their sales by 0.5 percent. And as Americans get ready for spring cleaning and home improvement season now that spring is here, sales in the nation's building supplies and garden stores jumped up by 0.7 percent. And as consumers gear up for outdoor activities, sales at sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores shot up by 2.3 percent in March.
Retail Sales in March (by channel)
|Source: U.S. Department of Commerce
|Sporting goods, hobby, book & music||+2.3|
|Building material & garden supplies||+0.7|
|Electronics & appliances||+0.5|
|Food & beverage stores||+0.3|
|Restaurants & bars||-0.4|
|Department stores, chains & discounters||-0.3|
|Health & personal care||-0.3|
|Clothing & accessories||-0.3|
|Furniture & home furnishings||-0.2|
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