US Retail Sales Skyrocket to 9.8% in March, Thanks to Stimulus Checks, Vaccines

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U.S. retail sales surged a whopping 9.8% in March, reflecting the economic recovery boosted by stimulus checks, an acceleration of vaccinations and an easing of restrictions.

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Advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for March 2021 were $619.1 billion, an increase of 9.8% from the previous month, and 27.7% above March 2020, according to the Commerce Department.

In addition, total sales for the January 2021 through March 2021 period were up 14.3% from the same period a year ago, according to the department’s data.

Economists had estimated a 6.1% increase, according to The Wall Street Journal.

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This huge increase follows a disappointing February, when retail sales fell 3%.

“It’s no surprise that retail sales numbers are strong this month. With the vaccine rollout continuing and the economy in a better place, consumers are more willing to spend on goods — both in stores and through ecommerce channels, which continues to grow,” Margo Kahnrose, CMO of marketing intelligence company Kenshoo, tells GOBankingRates.

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Kahnrose adds that online grocery is a great example of this, and a trend that’s here to stay — adoption of online grocery shopping is projected to reach 55% of U.S. consumers by the end of 2024.

“This morning’s report also shows that spending on clothing has increased for another month in a row — signaling consumers’ readiness to go back out into the world and take on this new, next normal. As we turn the corner to warmer weather and a greater level of confidence from the vaccines, we will see continued spending both from consumers and from brands,” she adds.

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.

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