Data released by the U.S. Census Bureau shows that retail sales continued to increase in March as tax refunds and job growth put more money in consumers’ pockets, according to observations from National Retail Federation (NRF) Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz.

On April 12, the NRF reported its March retail sales data in partnership with CNBC.

“March’s Census Bureau numbers confirm that consumer spending remains steady, underscoring a resilient consumer despite inflationary pressure,” Kleinhenz said. “While sales were mixed, several factors supported retail sales, including an early Easter holiday, slightly larger 2023 tax refunds and stronger payroll growth over the last three months. Nonetheless, the increasing share of consumer spending going to services as prices for services rise remains a stubborn problem because it leaves less household income available to spend on retail goods.”

The Census Bureau reported overall retail sales in March were up 0.7 percent seasonally adjusted from February and up 4 percent unadjusted year-over-year (YoY). That compared with increases of 0.9 percent month-over-month and 2.1 percent YoY in February.

As defined by the NRF, March core retail sales, based on the census data but excluding auto dealers, gas stations, and restaurants, were up 1.1 percent seasonally adjusted from February and up 3.2 percent unadjusted YoY. Core retail sales were reportedly up 3.9 percent unadjusted YoY on a three-month moving average as of March.

On April 12, the CNBC/NRF Retail Monitor, powered by Affinity Solutions, reported that March sales grew steadily. The Retail Monitor found core March retail sales were up 0.23 percent seasonally adjusted from February and up 2.92 percent unadjusted YoY. That compared with increases of 0.27 percent month-over-month and 2.99 percent YoY in February.

The two reports had similar trend paths through February, but the March report shows more divergence between the two takes. No explanation accompanied the April 15 press release from the NRF outlining the differences in the two reports.

Confused yet?