Retail numbers stay strong in March

David Brancaccio Apr 16, 2012

David Brancaccio: There was something in the air that got people out shopping last month.  Comparatively warm temperatures helped push up retail sales in the U.S. by about 0.8 percent.  Home and garden, and spending of the lumber yard type were a big part of it.

Faith Hope Consolo watches retail at Prudential Douglas Elliman in New York. Thanks for joining us, Faith.

Faith Hope Consolo: Good to talk to you David.

Brancaccio: So, sales for March up 0.8 percent. What do you think’s going on there?

Consolo: Well, I think the warm weather — that had depressed some of the retail sales slightly with the outerwear — now will boost sales for the rest of spring. I see it particularly for home repairs and gardening. But really what the icing on the cake was is that Easter was nearly three weeks earlier this year, which, pushing some of the April sales to March.

Brancaccio: Oh, so we have the calendar at work, in part, on these sales figures.

Consolo: Absolutely.

Brancaccio: So it’ll be very interesting to see what happens for April, if indeed maybe some of the March sales robbed April a little bit.

Consolo: Yes. But I think if you look at the ISCC —

Brancaccio: — that’s the International Shopping Center Council —

Consolo: You’ll see that the sales increase, which is a little different this month, is across the board — not just concentrated in the luxury and discount sectors that we’ve seen for the past year or 18 months. That means something else here, that you have to take notice that the average customer is feeling more confident, and maybe coming back to the table to spend. And I think that’s very telling.

I don’t want to sound overly optimistic or over-the-moon, but we watch this very closely; it’s also the tenth consecutive month of rising sales. And that shows what we hope is the continuing recovery.

Brancaccio: Faith Hope Consolo, Prudential Douglas Elliman. Thank you very very much.

Consolo: All right, good day David.

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