ARLINGTON, Va., April 13, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- According to figures released today by the U.S. Department of Commerce, retail sales continued their climb in March. Modest job growth gave consumers reason for optimism and tax refunds provided some extra discretionary income, noted the Retail Industry Leaders Association (RILA).
Monthly retail sales figures for March were up 0.4 percent over February and 7.1 percent over March 2010. Retail sales excluding auto sales were up 0.8 percent over the previous month and 6.5 percent over March 2010.
The spike in gasoline prices drove gasoline sales 2.6 percent above last month's sales and a remarkable 16.7 percent over sales from a year ago. Fuel prices predictably stained spending in other segments as did higher prices related to the increased cost of some raw materials, including cotton.
"Consumers and retailers fared well in March and showed resilience in the face of higher prices at the pump," said RILA President Sandy Kennedy.
Furniture and home furniture retailers lead the way in March with an increase of 3.6 percent, followed closely by building material retailers and electronics retailers who experienced growth of 2.2 percent and 2.1 percent respectively.
The Department of Labor reported with the economy adding 216,000 jobs and unemployment dropping to 8.8 percent, the lowest level since March 2009.
"There is no doubt the improving labor market contributed greatly and while some uncertainty lingers, I think it is safe to say that the recovery appears to be gaining traction and retailers have a lot to look forward to as consumers begin to release pent-up demand," added Kennedy.
RILA is the trade association of the world's largest and most innovative retail companies. RILA members include more than 200 retailers, product manufacturers, and service suppliers, which together account for more than $1.5 trillion in annual sales, millions of American jobs and operate more than 100,000 stores, manufacturing facilities and distribution centers domestically and abroad.
SOURCE Retail Industry Leaders Association