Furnishings, furniture store gains in step with overall trend

Belinda Arcitec

Washington – The overall pace of retail spending is slowing down, but the retail sector is still generating increases.

March sales in the furniture and home furnishings store sector were up 0.7% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 4.2% unadjusted year-over-year. Grocery and clothing stores were the only two sectors that outpaced its year-over-year growth.

The National Retail Federation’s (NRF) calculation of retail sales – which excludes automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants to focus on core retail – showed March was unchanged seasonally adjusted from February but up 4.0% unadjusted year over year. In February, sales were down 0.7% month over month but up 13.2% year over year.

NRF’s numbers were up 8.6% unadjusted year over year on a three-month moving average as of March. That is consistent with NRF’s forecast that 2022 retail sales will increase between 6% and 8% to total between $4.86 trillion and $4.95 trillion.

NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz said consumer spending is being supported by rapid hiring, increased wages, larger-than-usual tax refunds and the use of credit.

“They are largely dealing with the shock of gas prices but will be facing higher interest rates as the Federal Reserve tightens monetary policy in the coming months. The challenge for the Fed is to cool off demand without pushing the economy into a dramatic slowdown,” he added.

The U.S. Census Bureau – which includes automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants in its calculation for the retail industry –  said overall retail sales in March were up 0.5% seasonally adjusted from February and up 6.9% year over year. That compared with increases of 0.8% month over month and 18.2% year over year in February. Despite occasional month-over-month declines, sales have grown year over year every month since May 2020, according to Census data.

Specifics from key sectors include:

  • Grocery and beverage stores were up 1.0% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 7.9% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Clothing and clothing accessory stores were up 2.6% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 7.5% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Furniture and home furnishings stores were up 0.7% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 4.2% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • General merchandise stores were up 5.4% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 3.9% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Online and other non-store sales were down 6.4% month-over-month seasonally adjusted but up 2.6% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Building materials and garden supply stores were up 0.5% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 1.8% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Health and personal care stores were down 0.3% month-over-month seasonally adjusted but up 0.9% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Sporting goods stores were up 3.3% month-over-month seasonally adjusted but down 5.7% unadjusted year-over-year.
  • Electronics and appliance stores were up 3.3% month-over-month seasonally adjusted but down 9.6% unadjusted year-over-year. 

Furnishings, furniture store gains in step with overall trend

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