Shoppers shrugged off higher gas prices and cool temperatures to give retailers a surprisingly strong March, new reports say. Retail revenue figures extend the streak of solid spending from late last year, and indicate that recent job growth is tempering worries about higher pump prices. “Neither the lack of the Easter Bunny, nor cool temperatures or spiking gas prices could keep consumers at bay,” Ken Perkins, president of RetailMetrics LLC, a research firm, said in a statement. “There is still a significant amount of pent-up demand. I think the job recovery is catching on.”
The results are particularly encouraging because March 2010 spending was boosted by an early Easter. This year, Easter falls on April 24, three weeks later than last year. That puts holiday spending into April and depressed March’s results anywhere from three to five percentage points, as many retailers were expected to report declines. Analysts say combining March and April figures gives the best read on consumer spending. According to a preliminary count by Thomson Reuters, 11 retailers beat expectations, while four missed. Analysts say that March’s revenue results shows that shoppers focused on the solid gains in job growth, which gained momentum last month. Companies added workers at the fastest two-month pace since before the recession began.