U.S. jewelry store sales rose 6 percent year on year to $2.102 billion in March, according to preliminary government figures that were released today. However, the U.S. consumer price index (CPI) for jewelry during the month of March rose almost as much -- 5.9 percent.
An advanced estimate of sales for U.S. department stores during the month of April were poor and realized a 4 percent year-on-year decrease to $14 billion. Given that the Easter holiday fell earlier in 2012, on the first weekend in April, the combined sales for March and April at department stores reflected better results, but still they declined by 0.3 percent to $28.797 billion.
Advance estimates for all U.S. retail and food services sales for April rose 6.4 percent year on year to $408 billion, led by a surge in sales of building materials and gardening supplies and strong demand for home furnishings. Retail trade sales rose 6.1 percent in April.
In a separate report, the National Retail Federation (NRF) cited warm weather in February and March coupled with an early Easter holiday for shifting consumer-spending patterns slightly.
“Though consumer spending softened in April, retailers overall have seen solid sales growth so far this spring, a positive indicator we’re heading in the right direction,” said NRF's president Matthew Shay. “With 22 straight months of sustained retail sales growth, retailers are optimistic as they gear up for the all-important summer shopping season.”
Jack Kleinhenz, NRF's chief economist, added that the expected shortfall in April retail sales reflected the seasonal shift in consumer spending at this time each year. “With Easter a full 20 days earlier this year and unseasonably warm weather, consumers started spending as early as February and March on everything from spring apparel to newly released electronic items.”
The NRF noted that furniture and home furnishing stores’ sales increased 4.9 percent year on year, clothing and clothing accessories stores’ rose 1.7 percent, sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores’ sales improved by 2.9 percent and electronics and appliance stores’ sales were flat.