March Retail Sales Jump by 9.8% as Stimulus Checks Make Their Impact on US Economy

By Thomas Price Friday, April 16, 2021

As the United States (US) continues to recover from the economic downfall caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the latest March retail sales report has proven to be an incredibly reassuring sign. With vaccination efforts fully ramped up across the US, businesses of all types have begun reopening in-person locations at near full capacity as the economy continues to grow. The retail sales report was further helped by the most recent round of stimulus checks, which saw significant use over the course of the month.

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March Retail Sales Report Details

According to the newest report by the US Census Bureau, retail sales in the US jumped by a whopping 9.8% over the course of March. This increase translates to about $619.1 billion in total sales, marking the largest single-month increase since May of 2020, nearly a full year ago. The 9.8% increase in retail sales in March also heavily outpaced Wall Street expectations as well with projections for the month only predicting a 5.5% increase.

While businesses of all types benefitted from the growing economy, the companies in the sporting goods and clothing industries saw the biggest gains. In fact, sporting goods businesses were privy to a 23.5% jump in overall sales as the weather began warming up, causing consumers to start buying outdoor gear for the spring and summer. Clothing businesses also saw significant gains as well, with sales up 18.3% as in-person foot traffic at stores finally began increasing once again.

Another promising sign for the recovery of the economy came from businesses in the restaurant industry, where sales increased by 13.4%. The increase in sales suggests that with more restrictions lifted, Americans are going out to eat again without significant apprehension about the pandemic. Electronics and appliance businesses along with online retailers also saw sales boosts over the course of March at 10.5% and 6%, respectively.

Other Details

A large reason for such a stark increase in retail sales in March comes from the most recent round of stimulus checks approved early on in the month to help boost the economy. With most Americans receiving an additional $1,400 in spending money during the month, many used it to buy clothing, electronics, and other assorted consumer goods. In fact, according to a poll from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, about 25% of all the money from the stimulus checks was spent immediately on goods and products of different types, with the rest going toward savings or to paying down debt.

When commenting on the latest spending in the March retail sales report and the long-term expectations of the US economy, Senior Economist at Capital Economics Michael Pearce said, “Spending will almost certainly drop back in April as some of the stimulus boost wears off, but with the vaccination rollout proceeding at a rapid pace and household finances in strong shape, we expect overall consumption growth to continue rebounding rapidly in the second quarter too.”

Especially following the better-than-expected March jobs report that saw 916,000 nonfarm jobs added to the economy, this newest retail sales increase is a major sign of the massive economic recovery taking place across the US in 2021.

About the Author

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Tom Price is a writer focusing on entertainment and sports features. He has a degree from NYU in English with a minor in Creative Writing. He has been previously published for Washington Square News, Dignitas, CBR, and Numbers on the Boards.

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