The average household spent nearly a quarter of its stimulus check on goods and services last month, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.
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The agency estimated that retail and food service sales grew 9.8% last month, to $619.1 billion. In February, advance monthly sales topped $563.7 billion but declined 2.7% from the month before.
Clothing and clothing accessories stores were among the biggest beneficiaries of an improving economy this year. In March, those businesses made more than $22 million in non-adjusted advance sales — a huge jump from the $10.8 million they made in March 2020. The auto industry also saw a significant uptick in non-adjusted advance sales last month. Motor vehicle and parts dealers collectively earned more than $145 million, compared to the nearly $83 million they made in non-adjusted sales in March 2020.
According to CNBC, the figures can largely be attributed to consumers who have been spending their latest round of stimulus checks. A recent report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York points out that, in March, the average family saved about 41.6% of their check and spent 24.7% of it.
“Spending will almost certainly drop back in April as some of the stimulus boost wears off, but with the vaccination rollout proceeding at a rapid pace and households finances in strong shape, we expect overall consumption growth to continue rebounding rapidly in the second quarter too,” Michael Pearce, senior U.S. economist at Capital Economics, said in a statement obtained by CNBC.