The Census Bureau's Advance Retail Sales Report for March was released this morning. Headline sales came in at 9.8% month-over-month to one decimal and above the forecast of 5.9%. Core sales (ex Autos) came in at 8.5% MoM.

Here is the introduction from today's report:

Intention to Revise: Monthly retail sales estimates will be revised based on the results of the 2019 Annual Retail Trade Survey and the Service Annual Survey. Revised not adjusted estimates and corresponding adjusted estimates are scheduled for release on April 26, 2021 at 10:00 a.m. EDT.

Statement Regarding COVID-19 Impact: The Census Bureau continues to monitor response and data quality and has determined that estimates in this release meet publication standards. For more information, see COVID-19 FAQs.

Advance Estimates of U.S. Retail and Food Services
Advance estimates of U.S. retail and food services sales for March 2021, adjusted for seasonal variation and holiday and trading-day differences, but not for price changes, were $619.1 billion, an increase of 9.8 percent (±0.5 percent) from the previous month, and 27.7 percent (±0.7 percent) above March 2020. Total sales for the January 2021 through March 2021 period were up 14.3 percent (±0.5 percent) from the same period a year ago. The January 2021 to February 2021 percent change was revised from down 3.0 percent (±0.5 percent) to down 2.7 percent (±0.2 percent). [view full report]

The chart below is a log-scale snapshot of retail sales since the early 1990s. The two exponential regressions through the data help us to evaluate the long-term trend of this key economic indicator.

Retail Sales Trends

The year-over-year percent change provides another perspective on the historical trend. Here is the headline series.

Retail Sales YoY

Core Sales

Here is the year-over-year version of Core Retail Sales.

Core Retail Sales YoY