NEW YORK, NY (CBS Newspath) – With vaccinations accelerating, a growing number of people are venturing out and spending more money. The Commerce Department says retail sales surged 9.8% in March, almost double what analysts expected.
A hunger for normalcy has Americans filling up restaurants again. Doug Collister is a partner at China Live in San Francisco. He says, “Restaurants are coming back to life and doing what we love, which is hospitality for our diners and our guests, and it’s what we live for.” People are spending more time in stores as well, giving struggling retailers a much-needed boost. “I feel comfortable being out here, and I’m happy to spend what money I have, you know? Enjoying my life,” says shopper Tim Jones.
Mark Hamrick, an economic analyst with Bankrate.com, says, “I think we have a lot of reasons to smile right now with respect to what’s happening in the U.S. economy.” He adds, “We have the impacts of all the federal stimulus or relief payments, so there’s money to spend right now.”
Hamrick says car dealers saw an increase in customers last month. There was a big jump in business at clothing and sporting goods stores. “What’s perhaps most heartening right now is that we’re seeing big pickups at brick-and-mortar retailers,” he says.
Businesses are looking for more workers, and that’s giving the job market a boost. Last week there was a drop in the number of Americans applying for unemployment benefits. “I think the sky’s the limit for the U.S. economy,” says Hamrick. He believes unemployment will continue to fall in the coming months and spending will get closer to pre-pandemic levels.