Spring, war thaw sales
By Don Hogsett -- Home Textiles Today, 4/21/2003 12:00:00 AM
With spring finally at hand, and Americans feeling better once the war with Iraq had begun, consumers pulled their wallets out and headed to the malls in March, pushing retail sales up by 2.1 percent, the biggest monthly gain in 17 months, the Commerce Department reported.
The government report dovetailed with a preliminary report that the University of Michigan's key consumer confidence index jumped up sharply higher during the month.
As consumers started to unleash some of that pent-up demand, they went out shopping for big-ticket items like cars and home-related goods like furniture, home furnishings, appliances and especially building and garden supplies.
With spring finally showing up, the DIY crowd turned out in force and drove sales at building material and garden supply stores like Home Depot and Lowe's up by 7.9 percent during March, making it the single strongest channel during March.
Car sales surged as well, up 5.6 percent, despite rising gas prices.
Home goods acted as a magnet, and sales in furniture and home furnishings stores rose by 1.5 percent, while electronics and appliance retailers sales advanced by 0.2 percent.
Sales in department and discount stores remained soft, slipping by 0.3 percent and wiping out February's 0.3 percent gain.
But it wasn't a particularly good month for non-store retailers, catalogers and the Internet, as sales there slipped by 0.7 percent. Sales in sporting goods, book and music stores fell even further, by 1.1 percent.
Retail Sales in March (by channel)
|Building material & garden supplies||+7.9%|
|Furniture & home furnishings||+1.5|
|Clothing & accessories||+1.1|
|Restaurants & bars||+0.8|
|Health & personal care||+0.4|
|Electronics & appliances||+0.2|
|Sporting goods, hobbies, books & music||-1.1%|
|Department stores & discounters||-0.3|
|Food & beverage stores||-0.2|
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