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Retail Sales Slow, Though They Remain Close to Highs

  • Over the last nine months, retail sales have slowed in six as consumers continue to face rising prices (though price increases are slowing).
  • In March, retail sales fell 1.0%, after following 0.2% in February, giving up nearly half of the surprise 3.1% surge that happened in January. Sales were particularly weak across cars and gas stations as consumers tightened their belts on interest rate-sensitive purchases like cars.
  • Zooming out, total retail sales have grown considerably over the last couple of years. While part of this is due to inflationary pressures, the consumer has been resilient in their ability to not only maintain but increase their spending in the face of these pressures. As a result, aggregate retail sales are still at some of the highest levels ever.
  • Risks remain across the economy, and if a significant cooling trend continues in consumer and retail spending, the economy could enter a more turbulent period than we have seen lately.

Source: Helios Quantitative Research, Bloomberg, Census Bureau