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CE/Majap Retail Sales Up 1.2% In March: MasterCard

4/06/2011 10:10:23 AM Eastern

New York - Retail sales
of CE and major appliances rose 1.2 percent in March, on top of a year-ago
increase of 5.7 percent.

Last month's biggest
gains were online, where, according to MasterCard Advisors' Spending Pulse
retail report, CE sales spiked 14 percent and total e-commerce revenue
increased 16.1 percent, representing the fifth consecutive month of
double-digit growth.

Individual retailers will
report their March sales results tomorrow.

 Research and analysis VP Michael McNamara
attributed the strong web showing to higher gasoline prices, which "typically
result in consumers consolidating shopping trips, shopping closer to home, and making
fewer trips to the brick-and-mortar locations."

Majap dealers also faced
stiffer comparisons to last year, when a federally funded "cash for appliances"
rebate program stoked white-goods sales.

 MasterCard's monthly SpendingPulse report
tracks national retail and service sales activity based on MasterCard payments
and survey-based estimates for other payment forms including cash and check.

Separately, a poll of
8,200 consumers by Discover's U.S. Spending Monitor showed that confidence fell
for the second straight month in March, as high gas prices correlated with
discouraging consumer views about the direction of the U.S. economy.

Fifty-three percent of
consumers still rate the economy as poor, practically unchanged from February,
while 35 percent rate it as fair and just 10 percent rate the economy as good
or excellent.

Fully 51 percent of
Americans feel economic conditions are getting worse, a 7-point jump from
February and the highest number the survey has shown since September 2010.
Twenty percent of respondents feel conditions are the same, while 25 percent of
the population feels the economy is improving.