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As of March, the three-month moving average was up 2.6 per cent over the same period a year ago. March’s results make up for a revised monthly loss of 0.8 per cent seen in February and build on February’s year-over-year gain of 2.5 per cent. According to NRF, the numbers could have been better if not for cold weather early in March and changes in the timing of two key religious holidays.
“March’s numbers are very encouraging and set the stage for improved expectations for the economy in the coming months, especially since the first quarter is typically weak,” NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said. “These numbers boost first-quarter performance and suggest a strong consumer. It is clear that underlying consumer fundamentals including job and wage growth and healthy household balance sheets continue to support spending. Consumers were busy in March after weaker-than-expected spending earlier.”
“The change of seasons is always a factor because of the weather, and a later Easter and passover this year mean holiday-related sales that took place in March last year won’t come until April this year and sizably impact year-over-year comparisons,” added Kleinhenz.
NRF’s preliminary forecast projects that retail sales during 2019 will increase between 3.8 per cent and 4.4 per cent to more than $3.8 trillion. The forecast is subject to revision as more data is released in the coming months. (PC)
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