Retail sales rose 0.5% in March on the back of inflation; Import prices hit 11 years

Customers purchase a shopping cart at a supermarket on April 12, 2022 in San Mateo County, California.

Liu Guangguan | China News Service | Getty Images

According to official data released on Thursday, consumers continued to spend in March, even as inflation peaked at the end of 1981.

Retail sales rose 0.5% over the previous month, slightly lower than the 0.6% Dow Jones estimate, and a decline from the upward revised 0.8% gain in February.

The move comes with a 1.1% rise in inflation for the month as measured by the Consumer Price Index.

Retail sales data are not adjusted for inflation. As a result, the biggest gains of the month were game sales at gas stations, which saw an 8.9% increase in sales as petrol prices rose 18.3% during the period. The sector has seen a 37% increase in sales in the last one year.

In contrast, online sales fell sharply, to 6.4% a month. General merchandise stores grew 5.4%, both sporting goods and electronics stores saw a 3.3% profit, and food and beverage stores, including bars and restaurants, saw a 1% increase.

Retail sales broadly rose 6.9% year-on-year, with CPI inflation rising 8.5%, the highest level since December 1981.

In other economic data, primary unemployment demand rose to 185,000 in the week ended April 9, up 18,000 from the previous week and above the estimate of 172,000. Continuing claims, which went a week behind the headline number, dropped 48,000 to 1.475 million.

Also, as inflation continues to hit imports, prices rose 2.6%, the biggest month-on-month increase since April 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. This was higher than the 2.2% estimate.

On a 12-month basis, import prices jumped 12.5%, the largest such gain since September 2011.

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