March 2021 saw healthy retail sales growth over March 2020 when pandemic restrictions went into place. The boost was due in part to government stimulus checks and attitudes about COVID as more people get vaccinated, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF).
NRF’s calculation of retail sales – which excludes automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants to focus on core retail – showed March was up 7.4% seasonally adjusted from February and up 17.7% unadjusted year-over-year.
The news came after a disappointing February which saw a month-over-month decrease of 3.4% and a year-over-year increase of 7.2%.
While retail sales growth in March is positive news for in-person retail, how will it impact online shopping this spring and into the summer?
Kibo’s Meyar Sheik thinks growing confidence in in-store shopping may be the reason Amazon is reportedly moving Prime Day forward to June this year.
“With the rapid distribution of vaccines in the U.S. and other large international markets, more consumers will be looking to increase their discretionary spend, as well as return to physical retail stores and malls to shop,” Sheik said. “This could inevitably have a negative impact on online sales for Q2 and Q3 and will disproportionately affect Amazon, given its sizable ecommerce market share in the U.S. and abroad.”
NRF didn’t get into total retail versus ecommerce in its announcement, but it did share this statistic from its research into March sales: “Online and other non-store sales were up 6% month-over-month seasonally adjusted and up 30.7% unadjusted year-over-year.”
NRF CEO Matthew Shay said a confident consumer was driving the economic rebound, which should continue through the remainder of 2021.