Jewelry store sales in February 2012 rose 18.7 percent year on year to $2.69 billion, according to the government's calculations. For the first two months of the year, jewelry store sales have increased 13 percent year on year to $4.42 billion. Meanwhile, the index for consumer jewelry price inflation in January was at a record high, reflecting price increases of 8 percent from one year earlier, and the index rose 6 percent in February.
In other retail news, the government reported that advanced estimates of sales from department stores during March rose 3.7 percent year on year to $14.72 billion. Retail trade sales rose 6.5 percent from one year earlier.
Overall, the advance estimate for retail and food sales, excluding automobiles, in March rose 7.2 percent year on year to $341.97 billion.
In its own report, the National Retail Federation (NRF) determined that an early Easter (April 8) helped to boost retail sales in March.
''Consumers have demonstrated the desire and ability to spend on discretionary items, further helping to spur economic and retail sales growth in the first quarter of 2012,'' said NRF's president Matthew Shay. “While retailers will wait until the end of April to gauge the success of the spring shopping season, it’s evident that consumers are holding their own against rising gas prices and other economic concerns.''
The NRF noted that building materials, garden equipment, clothing and accessories surged more than 12 percent in March on an unadjusted basis, while furniture and home furnishings stores sales increased 7.9 percent.
The moderated rate of growth in retail will help to offset ''murkier recent economic employment data,'' concluded NRF's chief economist, Jack Kleinhenz. ''We expect to see gains through the all-important summer months, but job and weak income growth coupled with stubbornly high gas costs will continue to force consumers to make tough, price-sensitive choices.''