US Retail Sales See Largest Gain in 10 Months
US retail sales saw a record rise of the last 10 months in March as Americans received additional pandemic relief packages and increased COVID-19 vaccinations allowed for broader economic re-engagement, fuelling expectations for Q1 growth.
Retail sales rebounded 9.8% last month, seeing their largest increase since May 2020, the Commerce Department said. Data for February was revised higher with sales dropping 2.7% instead of 3.0% as previously reported. March's increase has pushed the sales’ levels 17.1% above their pre-pandemic level and to a record high.
The rebound was led by motor vehicles - up 15.1%, clothing - up 18.3% and restaurants and bars - up 13.4%.
Consumers also boosted spending at restaurants and bars, leading to a 13.4% jump in receipts. Still, sales at restaurants and bars are 1.8% lower compared to March 2020.
Brightening economic prospects were underscored by other data on Thursday, showing first-time claims for unemployment benefits fell to their lowest level since March 2020.
The economy created 916,000 jobs in March, the most in seven months. Employment, however, still remains 8.4 million jobs below its peak in February 2020.
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