Chart of the week
After a disappointing, weather-blighted February, retail sales surprised to the upside in March, jumping 9.8% overall and 6.8% excluding the most volatile components: vehicles, fuel, building materials and restaurants. At $619 billion, retail sales volumes are up 17% from their pre-crisis level in February 2020. While the monthly report does not cover the entire services sector, bar and restaurant sales posted a 13.4% rebound to $62 billion, which is 5% down from the beginning of 2020.
With the weather back to normal, consumer spending is accelerating, fuelled by the reopening of the US economy and the government’s stimulus cheques, both of which should allow the rebound to continue as employment and consumer-confidence levels recover enough for people to start spending the savings they accumulated during the crisis. While goods consumption levels have already risen above those of early 2020, the rebound in services spending has probably only just begun.
The following opinion was written on April 19th 2021 and is susceptible of changing.
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