US retail sales rise 0.8% in March, a positive boost for economy

16 April 2012 17:10  [Source: ICIS news]

WASHINGTON (ICIS)--US retail sales rose by 0.8% in March from February to $411.1bn (€312.4bn), the Commerce Department said on Monday, a positive sign for the US economy but a lower pace than that seen in February.

In its monthly report, the department noted that while the pace of spending growth last month was less than the 1% gain reported for February, it was still better than the more modest 0.6% expansion in January.

The March level of spending by households also marked a solid 6.5% improvement compared with the same month of 2011.

However, some of the March gain in consumer spending was in part attributed to a nearly 15% increase in outlays for gasoline, which reflects recent advances in US fuel costs.

But last month also saw strong 14% improvements in household spending for building materials along with garden equipment and supplies as homeowners geared up for the North American spring season.

Consumer spending is the principal driving force of the US economy, accounting for as much as 70% of all production and commercial activity.

Any improvement in the rate of consumer spending has near-term positive impact on the nation’s economy, and the successive improvements in January through March are seen as evidence that consumers are gaining more confidence in the economy’s long-term prospects.

($1 = €0.76)

Paul Hodges studies key influences shaping the chemical industry in Chemicals and the Economy


By: Joe Kamalick
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