U.S. retail sales rebounded in March after three straight monthly declines as households boosted purchases of motor vehicles and other big-ticket items, suggesting consumer spending was heading into the second quarter with momentum. The Commerce Department said on Monday retail sales increased 0.6 percent last month after an unrevised 0.1 percent dip in February. January data was revised to show sales falling 0.2 percent instead of the previously reported 0.1 percent drop. Retail sales in March increased 4.5 percent from a year ago. Excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, retail sales rose 0.4 percent last month after being unchanged in February. These so-called core retail sales correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product.
Total Retail's Take: A positive close to the first quarter for retailers. Economists forecast a strong 2018 for the retail industry, driven by job growth, rising consumer confidence, and a healthy stock market. The second quarter features Mother's Day, Father's Day, graduation and wedding seasons, so there are opportunities for retailers to continue the momentum into spring. With winter lingering well into April in many parts of the country, it will be interesting to see if the inclement weather has a negative impact on brick-and-mortar sales.