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U.S. Jewelry, Watch Sales +2%

May 1, 2014 11:06 AM   By Jeff Miller
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RAPAPORT... U.S. jewelry and watch sales improved slightly in March, according to preliminary statistics, and the rate of growth was revised lower for February. Sales of jewelry and watches combined increased 2.3 percent year on year in March  as measured across all retail segments; however, the rate of growth one year ago was much stronger at 9.5 percent. Government figures reflected sector growth of only 2.3 percent in February, following a preliminary increase of 6.4 percent. The revision was somewhat more in line with U.S. jewelry store sales, which increased 3.7 percent year on year to $2.914 billion in February. (Read more after the chart.)

retail sales

Jewelry sales in March increased 2.2 percent year on year to $4.968 billion, while watch sales rose 2.8 percent to $665 million, according to Rapaport News estimates. Meanwhile, the U.S. consumer price index (CPI) for jewelry declined 2.6 percent and the CPI for watches rose 0.6 percent in March. (Read more after the chart.)
retail watch sales

In broader retail news, advanced estimates for U.S. department store sales in  March fell 5.7 percent year on year to  $13.47 billion, marking a steeper decline than February when sales fell  4.7 percent to $11.843 billion.

Advance estimates for all U.S. retail and food services sales for March rose 3.8 percent year on year to $433.9 billion. Retail trade sales were up 3.7 percent and  nonstore retailers reported a 7.8 percent increase.

Comparable-store sales  at U.S. chain-stores in March rose  3.6 percent year on year, according to the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC).

Sterne Agee stated that personal spending rose 4 percent year on year in March. A big rebound in nominal income and consumption at the end of the first quarter supported the U.S. Federal Reserve's  statement showing an improved assessment of economic conditions. And while there has been ground regained from the January low, on a relative basis, looking at inflation-adjusted spending, the consumer remains restricted in their ability to finance increased spending amid stagnant wage growth, according to its monthly report. The longer-term trend continues to show downward momentum, suggesting the "rebound" may be short-lived.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) concluded that a calmer weather pattern, especially in regions prone to winter weather, helped boost consumer spending during March.

“Consumers shed their winter coats last month for fresh, spring merchandise,” said NRF's president, Matthew Shay. “Retail sales increased in most categories and sectors as consumers took to stores to purchase new spring attire and home furnishings in hopeful expectation of warmer weather.”

NRF's chief economist, Jack Kleinhenz, added, “Consumers released some pent-up demand in March after two consecutive months of harsh winter weather that not only hampered employment opportunities but also retail sales. We remain optimistic that retail sales will continue their positive march this spring.”


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Tags: Consumer Spending, cpi, Jeff Miller, Jewelry, National Retail Federation, retail sales, stern agee, watch
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