Retail sales continue to move in a positive direction, according to a new report from CNBC/National Retail Federation Retail Monitor, powered by Affinity Solutions, that shows March retail sales continue to show signs of recovery after inflation sent sales plummeting in 2023. 

“As inflation for goods levels off, March’s data demonstrates steady spending by value-focused consumers who continue to benefit from a strong labor market and real wage gains,” said National Retail Federation (NRF) president and CEO Matthew Shay. 

Excluding automobiles and gasoline, retail sales for March were up 0.36 percent, seasonally adjusted month over month and up 2.72 percent unadjusted year over year. This is up slightly from year-over-year figures in February, which showed retail sales were up 2.72 percent. 

In March, core retail sales, excluding restaurants, automobile sales and gasoline, were up 0.23 percent month over month and 2.92 percent year over year. This is down slightly from February’s month-over-month figures of 0.27 percent and 2.99 percent, respectively. 

Overall, first quarter sales were up 2.65 percent year over year with core sales up 3.12 percent. According to the report, March sales were up in six out of nine categories, with online sales, sporting goods, health and personal care stores seeing the sharpest increases.

Online and non-store sales were up 2.48 percent month over month in March, and more than 15 percent year over year. Meanwhile, sporting goods sales were up 0.86 percent month over month and 8.33 percent year over year. 

Sales dropped in the building and garden supply sector, down 2.13 percent month over month and 3.97 percent year over year. Furniture and home furnishings were also down 1.46 percent month over month and 5.28 percent year over year. 

Electronics and appliances also saw sharp decreases, falling 2.27 percent month over month and 5.92 percent year over year. 

“In this highly competitive market, retailers are having to keep prices as low as possible to meet the demand of consumers looking to stretch their family budgets,” said Shay.