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The National Retail Federation (NRF) reports that while March retail sales were down slightly compared to February, they remained significantly higher than the same month a year earlier.

"NRF’s calculation of retail sales – which excludes automobile dealers, gasoline stations and restaurants to focus on core retail – showed March was down 0.5% from February but up 4.6% unadjusted year over year. In February, sales were up 0.5% month over month and up 6.7% year over year. NRF’s numbers were up 6% unadjusted year over year on a three-month moving average as of March.

"The results come as NRF is forecasting that 2023 retail sales will grow between 4% and 6% over 2022."

According to NRF, "Grocery and beverage stores were down 0.1% month over month seasonally adjusted but up 5.6% unadjusted year over year … Health and personal care stores were up 0.3% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 7.3% unadjusted year over year … (and) online and other non-store sales were up 1.9% month over month seasonally adjusted and up 12.4% unadjusted year over year."

KC's View:

Is this setting up what economists - and hopeful politicians, regulators and businesspeople - would call a "soft landing?"  

Because while inflation continues to be a problem, with expectations for some sort of recession in our near future, this data certainly suggests that the consumer economy continues to have a lot of juice.