WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Commerce Department reports that retail sales increased 9.8 percent in March, following a 2.7 percent decrease in February. The numbers surpassed the Dow Jones economists’ prediction of a 6.1 percent gain for the month. The sales growth is the biggest monthly gain since May 2020 (18.3 percent), which also came after a round of stimulus checks. According to CNBC, the newly issued stimulus checks gave consumers more discretionary income to spend on goods and services from retailers and restaurants than they had in February.
The sporting goods, clothing and food and beverage categories generated the greatest increases in sales since pre-pandemic. Bar and restaurants saw an increase of 13.4 percent, while sporting goods sales increased by 23.5 percent. Clothing and accessories retailers had an 18.3 percent increase, and motor vehicle parts and dealers experienced a 15.1 percent jump.
Some economists predict that people are still trying to save a portion of their stimulus checks. According to the CNBC, people saved 34.5 percent of stimulus checks and spent 29.2 percent. The news outlet also reported that inflation is becoming an increasing worry for economists as there has already been an increase in gas prices.