MasterCard Advisors SpendingPulse said most retail sectors continued to demonstrate solid year-over-year gains in March as easy year-over-year comparisons helped produce positive growth rates. While sales levels in several sectors are still off from the highs of 24 months ago, spending was positive across most regions of the country, with the exception of the Pacific Coast.

In a separate report Tuesday, ICSC-Goldman Sachs (ICSC-GS) said it expects to see the best sales results since 1994. The ICSC-GS chain store sales index for the week ending April 3 rose by a hefty 2.1%. That was the strongest weekly gain in a four weeks and was helped by the confluence of warm weather and the approaching Easter holiday. On a year-over-year basis, sales spurted by 4.7% (seasonally adjusted), which marked the strongest pace since the week ending March 31, 2007 (+4.9%). 

Thomson Reuters, meanwhile, forecast a 6.3% increase in its same-store sales index for March, compared with a 5% rise a year earlier. That would be the best showing since a 7.6% jump in March 2007, the newswire reported.


Zumiez Inc., meanwhile, announced it’s comparable store sales increased 13.2% for the five-week period ended April 3, versus a comparable store sales decrease of 17.9% in the year ago period. SportsOneSource will post monthly chain store sales reports for many retailers on this site as they become available tomorrow morning.


“Areas showing the largest year-over-year increases were online sales and luxury retailers,” said Michael McNamara, VP, research and analysis for SpendingPulse. “In addition, all areas of apparel were also comfortably in positive territory. Prices maintained their levels as inventories continued to be aligned with demand and retailers did not seem to have had to resort to discounting in order to drive traffic during the Easter shopping season.”

The eCommerce channel was up 18.4% from last year, its 8th consecutive month of double digit growth, demonstrating that the channel continues to grow at a faster rate than traditional brick and mortar stores.

Luxury sales posted a 22.7% year-over-year increase. It is important to note that this is being measured against March 2009, a month in which we saw significant double digit declines in this sector.

U.S. Specialty Apparel Sales increased a solid 5.2% with strength across the board as every subsector posted positive year-over-year gains. Some of the strength in this category may be attributed to an earlier Easter this year, pushing much of the pre-Easter spending into March.

Overall electronics sales were up 4.9% year-over-year, posting a strong growth of 6.8% in the Appliance sub-sector and a gain of 4.5% year-over-year for Consumer Electronics sales. Tempering this, it is important to note that this sector is still down 4.2 % when compared to March of 2008