Consumers are Returning to Stores
The U.S. consumer remains remarkably resilient amid growing concerns about record inflation, rising borrowing costs, the psychological impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and the recent spike in gasoline prices, supported by broad labor market strength coupled with solid wages Growing and accumulating savings for the pandemic.
That resilience was well reflected in retail sales, which rose about 7% overall in March from a year earlier, with sales excluding gas stations, auto dealerships, and restaurants up 4%. The increase came as sales rose in March 2021 as consumers received stimulus checks under the U.S. rescue package, although inflation (higher retail prices) drove the year-over-year growth. Also of note, brick-and-mortar stores outperformed online retailers in March for the first time since the pandemic began in spring 2020, as consumers returned to more normal shopping patterns.