Soft Pandemic Categories Get Bounce in March
The federal government’s monthly retail numbers released Thursday morning backup what we have been hearing anecdotally from industry retailers and brands: consumers opened their wallets in a big way in March.
U.S. retail sales grew 9.8% in March compared to the previous month.
And most interestingly, spending on both restaurants and apparel – two of the hardest hit categories during the pandemic – jumped 13.4% and 18.3%, respectively.
Department stores, which have seen big sales drops during the crisis, saw a 13% increase in sales compared with February.
Business is still booming at sporting goods stores, which have been a bright spot during the pandemic. Sales in that category of retail rose 23.5%.
The numbers also support many of the comments Macy’s CEO Jeff Gennette made during a public talk Wednesday.
Gennette said the company is definitely seeing a bump in sales from the stimulus package and the increased vaccine rollout.
“We are very excited with what we are seeing right now with the consumer and what we are seeing in the macro environment,” Gennette said.
Categories that had been soft during the pandemic are picking up including denim, special occasion dresses, luggage, kids apparel, and warm weather goods such as swim, shorts, T-shirts and sandals.
Sportswear has also slowly started to improve.
Another bright spot for Macy’s: Full-price selling has been strong.
In addition to seeing a big jump in new customers, Macy’s core customer, which had paused spending at Macy’s during the pandemic, has begun to spend again, Gennette said.