Retail sales in the U.S. surged 9.8% in March as shoppers increased spending across several categories, including in-store shopping, restaurant dining and online purchases, the Census Bureau revealed in a new report Thursday.
Why it matters: It was the biggest monthly boost in retail spending since May 2020 — bouncing back from a dip in February — helped by the latest round of stimulus checks, the ramped-up vaccination effort and the economic reopening.
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Details: Retail sales were up 27.7% from March 2020, while motor vehicle and parts dealers saw a 71.1% surge from this time last year.
Sales at restaurants and bars were also up 36% higher than last year.
Data: U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Axios Visuals
What they're saying: “There were a lot of positive forces for consumers in March,” Michelle Meyer, head of U.S. economics at Bank of America, told the Wall Street Journal.
"The reopening progressed throughout March, with more and more states easing restrictions, more and more people becoming vaccinated and feeling comfortable re-engaging in the economy and activities that they did previously," she added.
Of note: New applications for state unemployment insurance — one proxy for layoffs — fell last week to the lowest level (roughly 613,000, not adjusted for seasonality) since the onset of the pandemic, a separate Labor Department report today showed.
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