March retail sales rebound – WWD
March sales at fashion retailers showed continuous improvement from February – and were a difference day and night from a year ago, when the coronavirus first locked shoppers on lockdown .
Specialty clothing and accessories stores pushed seasonally adjusted sales up 18.3% from February and registered a colossal 101% increase from a year ago, according to the Commerce Department’s monthly reading . Department stores increased 13% from a month ago and 25.6% from March 2019.
The fashion brick-and-mortar crowd has managed to keep pace with out-of-store retailers, a category dominated by e-commerce sites and which saw a 6% increase in sales from February and a 25% jump. , 6% year on year.
But it’s not as easy as fighting back after a hectic year of consumers leaning into e-commerce from staying at home. Official numbers add up sales by distribution, not by company, and large retail operations all have both store and e-commerce operations and are working harder than ever to work together. For example, many retailers have been rushing to implement online shopping programs, support in-store programs during the pandemic and are now doubling down on this functionality as consumers jump into the process. .
Overall, retail sales were up 9.8% from February – better than the 5.5% gain expected on average by economists. Compared to a year earlier, sales increased 27.7%.
Economists have taken courage to bounce back.
“Wow!” Stephen Stanley, chief economist at Amherst Pierpont, said in an analysis noting that retail sales “have exploded upwards.”
“The past month offered a perfect storm as the economy reopened significantly in most states, the weather was much better, and households received another massive round of rebate checks. Consumers have steadily surprised on the upside since the lockdowns ended last spring, and that momentum has certainly continued so far into 2021, ”Stanley said.
“Some of this latest wave will wear off, as the boost from rebate checks will be short-lived, likely extending into April, and then quickly wearing off. However, with the reopening of the economy, the underlying trend will remain robust for the foreseeable future, ”he said.
And Matthew Shay, President and CEO of the National Retail Federation, said, “US households are clearly feeling the full effect of further fiscal stimulus, labor market gains and the reopening of the economy. . Although there have been some recent vaccine-related issues, consumer confidence remains high and the optimistic outlook for the future continues to grow. Retailers remain committed, transparent and adamant about putting the safety of customers and employees first when they welcome shoppers back to their stores this spring. ”
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