This month's retail headlines cover a rise in retail, a slowing in ecommerce, new social commerce channels, and more.

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Brick and Mortar

US retail sales rose in March for the second-straight month

US retailRetail spending in the US rose 0.7% in March, marking the second consecutive month of growth and reflecting the strength of the consumer driven by a robust job market. Despite a slower pace compared to February, the increase surpassed economists' projections, with online sales and specialty stores experiencing solid growth, indicating continued strong consumer spending, which has remained resilient despite inflation and elevated interest rates.

 

Imports from China to U.S. are rising at the fastest rate since last fall

Imports from ChinaInflation is rising alongside an increase in imports from China to the US, indicating economic rebound, despite supply chain challenges. Despite multiple disruptions, including a tragic bridge collapse and port diversions, consumer-based imports are on the rise, affecting supply chain prices and prompting adjustments in shipping plans, with expectations of continued import growth tempered by concerns over inflation and interest rates.

 

US first-quarter auto sales grew 5.1% despite high interest rates, but EV growth slows further

March 2024 autoDespite a 5.1% rise in new vehicle sales in the US during the first quarter, electric vehicle (EV) sales growth slowed significantly due to concerns over limited range and charging infrastructure, with EVs accounting for only 7.15% of total sales. Automakers reduced prices and increased discounts, resulting in a 3.6% decline in average sales price in March, as inventory levels approached pre-pandemic levels, with more affordable vehicles outperforming larger, expensive SUVs in sales.

  

Quick-service restaurants had a tough first quarter

Quick service restaurantsBad weather and rising prices contributed to a decline in customer traffic at fast-food restaurants in the first quarter of the year, according to data from Revenue Management Solutions. Despite an increase in average prices, sales remained barely positive, with delivery sales experiencing a decline since the third quarter of last year. However, takeout and dine-in sales saw year-over-year increases, while drive-thru sales suffered a notable decline.

 

Ecommerce & Social Commerce

Ecommerce sales growth in slow lane as mass market crowd thins

Eccomerce slowing q1 2024Ecommerce sales grew at a modest 12-15% in the first three months of this year, declining from the 20% growth in value achieved during the same period last year, according to market research data. Q1 is a slower period when fashion and peripheral segments clear older inventory. Notably, no major smartphone devices — the mainstay of online retail — have been launched this year. “Though January was bad, we have seen growth return over the last three weeks, and we will likely see about 20% growth rate return by April,” said Satish Meena, advisor at Datum Intelligence. 

 

How YouTube Shopping is upping its social commerce competition with TikTok

Youtube shopYouTube has introduced updates to its Shopping features, including a new Affiliate Hub and Shopping Collections, allowing creators to monetize their channels more effectively and collaborate with over 300 partner brands like Target and Adidas. This move by YouTube's parent company Alphabet signals a focus on leveraging creators and their affiliates to stay competitive in the evolving landscape of social commerce, amidst growing competition from platforms like TikTok Shop and Meta properties.

 

What We’re Reading

Why more tech in stores shouldn’t mean fewer workers

Tech replacing workersRetail stores are grappling with lighter staffing levels due to various factors like operational changes, hiring challenges, and corporate expense cuts, particularly as the pandemic accelerated the complexity of store operations with the rise of omnichannel services. While technology like AI offers potential solutions, the misalignment between customer expectations and self-service experiences indicates the need for retailers to invest in both technology and human capital to enhance customer satisfaction and address operational challenges effectively.

 

 

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