Customers pushing shopping carts shop at a supermarket on April 12, 2022 in San Mateo County, California.
Liu Guanguan | China news service | Getty Images
Consumers continued to spend in March even as inflation rose to its highest level since late 1981, according to government data released on Thursday.
Retail sales rose 0.5% from the previous month, slightly less than the Dow Jones estimate of 0.6% and a slowdown from February’s revised up 0.8% gain.
The move came as inflation rose 1.1% for the month as measured by the CPI.
Retail sales are not adjusted for inflation. Consequently, the largest increase in sales for the month’s game was at gas stations, which saw sales increase 8.9% as gasoline prices rose 18.3% over the period. The sector has seen a 37% jump in sales over the past year.
In contrast, online sales plummeted, falling 6.4% for the month. Convenience stores were up 5.4%, sporting goods and electronics stores were each up 3.3%, and bars and food & beverage and bar & restaurant sales were up 1%.
Retail sales generally rose 6.9% yoy, a period during which CPI inflation rose 8.5%, the highest since December 1981.
In other economic data, initial jobless claims rose to 185,000 in the week ended April 9, up 18,000 from the previous week and above the 172,000 estimate. Continuing claims, a week behind the headline figure, fell 48k to 1.475 million.
Inflation also continued to hit imports, with prices rising 2.6%, the largest monthly increase since April 2011, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. That was even higher than the estimate of 2.2%.
On a 12-month basis, import prices increased by 12.5%, the largest such increase since September 2011.