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US Consumers Continue to Return to Normal in March (But Slowly)

In line with steadying consumer confidence and growing inflation concerns, March saw a growth, albeit slow, of 7.0% percent over year-over-year for All Stores, with All Stores Less Automotive growing 6.4% and All Stores Less Automotive, Food, Pharmacies growing by 6.6%.

Gasoline Stations continue to be the largest category this month at a staggering 37.9% year-over-year. With inflation top of mind, it is unsurprising that even as consumers look to hybrid work environments and favour shorter commutes, the category continues to experience impressive performance. Grocery Stores are also up in March (9.0% growth year-over-year) as inflation hits the category almost as hard. Even though consumers are starting to venture out to restaurants and out of home experiences more and more, there is still no end in sight for the growth in the category.

Another category that is showing strong growth into March is Food Services and Drinking Places, which grew by 20.2% over the previous year, showing that consumers are returning to restaurants. This coupled with a continued growth of 7.5% in Clothing and Accessories Stores shows that consumers are finally able to start going out again, including special occasions that may have previously been rescheduled. This increase could correlate to the minor growth being seen in Nonstore Retailers, that is beginning to normalize as the category grew only slightly by 2.6%. Consumers are not only looking to purchase products and experiences related to going out but are also looking back to brick and mortar to find them.

The categories that continue to struggle are unsurprisingly Electronics and Appliance Stores and Motor Vehicles and Parts Dealers, which fell by -9.6% and -1.0%, respectively, over March 2021. With the continuing invasion of Ukraine straining the world’s neon supply (necessary for producing microchips), the categories are likely to continue seeing an uphill battle as demand continues to outpace supply.

Overall, March showed some growth, but did not see the full return to normal that people have been hoping for. The outlook is still relatively positive for US retail, but could further inflation limit more substantial growth? Join us next month to find out!

US Retail Sales by Product Category, Same Month Comparison

Sales for the Month of March202220212022/2021
All Stores677,211633,0786.97%
  Motor Vehicle and Parts Dealers145,495146,907-0.96%
  Gasoline Stations63,91446,36037.86%
All Stores Less Automotive467,802439,8116.36%
  Food and Beverage Stores78,36972,6567.86%
  Grocery Stores70,58864,7349.04%
  Health and Personal Care Stores33,46533,1720.88%
All Stores Less Automotive, Food, Pharmacies355,968333,9836.58%
  Building Material and Garden Equipment Stores44,31943,5201.84%
  General Merchandise Stores72,63369,8863.93%
  Department Stores (Excluding Leased Departments)11,18410,8253.32%
  Clothing and Accessories Stores25,98224,1717.49%
  Furniture, Home Furnishings, Electronics and Appliance Stores20,29120,531-1.17%
  Furniture and Home Furnishings Stores13,08012,5514.21%
  Electronics and Appliance Stores7,2117,980-9.64%
  Sporting Goods, Hobby, Musical Instrument, and Book Stores9,0149,554-5.65%
  Miscellaneous Store Retailers15,54413,60514.25%
  Nonstore Retailers89,88587,5712.64%
  Food Services and Drinking Places78,30065,14520.19%

US Retail Sales by Store Category, Year to Date Comparison

Year to Date Sales Ending March202220212022/2021
All Stores1,843,5301,640,84312.35%
  Motor Vehicle and Parts Dealers385,085353,9588.79%
  Gasoline Stations163,448119,86936.36%
All Stores Less Automotive1,294,9971,167,01610.97%
  Food and Beverage Stores226,393210,2017.70%
  Grocery Stores204,525188,5378.48%
  Health and Personal Care Stores95,77490,1756.21%
All Stores Less Automotive, Food, Pharmacies972,830866,64012.25%
  Building Material and Garden Equipment Stores112,318104,3547.63%
  General Merchandise Stores196,129183,7126.76%
  Department Stores (Excluding Leased Departments)30,05127,03311.16%
  Clothing and Accessories Stores65,93556,47916.74%
  Furniture, Home Furnishings, Electronics and Appliance Stores55,48354,5101.78%
  Furniture and Home Furnishings Stores35,09033,2615.50%
  Electronics and Appliance Stores20,39321,249-4.03%
  Sporting Goods, Hobby, Musical Instrument, and Book Stores23,78123,3991.63%
  Miscellaneous Store Retailers41,97535,29518.93%
  Nonstore Retailers265,451240,36210.44%
  Food Services and Drinking Places211,758168,52925.65%

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