Washington — Sales at CE and major appliance dealers were essentially flat in March following a trying winter, the U.S. Census Bureau reported.
According to the agency’s monthly retail sales tally, sell-through within the CE/majap channel slipped 0.7 percent year over year to $8.2 billion, and was down 1.6 percent from February.
March marked the second consecutive month of flat channel sales following a precipitous 4.7 percent decline in January. Analysts attributed the thaw in consumer spending to the return of mild weather and a steadily improving economy.
“Consumers released some pent-up demand in March after two consecutive months of harsh winter weather that not only hampered employment opportunities but also retail sales,” observed Jack Kleinhenz, chief economist for the National Retail Federation (NRF), an industry trade group.
By comparison, March sales for furniture and home-furnishings dealers were up 2.1 percent from last year, and online and other direct sellers enjoyed a 7.8 percent spike in sales.
All figures were adjusted for seasonal variation and for holiday and trading day differences, but not for price changes.
Total unadjusted retail sales, excluding gas stations, restaurants and the automotive channel, edged up 1.6 percent year over year in March.
“We remain optimistic that retail sales will continue their positive march this spring,” said Kleinhenz, citing improving economic conditions and consumer confidence that “should push consumers to return to spending habits.”