Ride-on toys in a Walmart store | Source: Roman Tiraspolsky – stock.adobe.com

As the toy industry sits on the cusp of first quarter earnings season, some encouraging numbers have emerged regarding overall consumer spending in the U.S.

The National Retail Federation (NRF) and the U.S. Census Bureau issued updates on March U.S. retail sales, and while the organizations differ in methodology and overall results, both reflected a slight year-over-year gain despite rampant inflation. According to the Census Bureau, March retail sales spiked 6.9% over last year while NRF reported a 4% gain.

“While prices soared in March and eroded spending power, shoppers remained resilient and sales were healthy,” says NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz. “Consumers have the willingness to spend and their ability to do so has been supported by rapid hiring, increased wages, larger-than-usual tax refunds, and the use of credit. They are largely dealing with the shock of gas prices but will be facing higher interest rates as the Federal Reserve tightens monetary policy in the coming months. The challenge for the Fed is to cool off demand without pushing the economy into a dramatic slowdown.”

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In other news from the NRF, the organization’s latest Global Port Tracker update reflected a slight slowdown at U.S. ports but the West Coast is still jammed. March numbers have not yet been reported, but the NRF believes they will be nearly identical to last year. The organization believes that total U.S. imports will spike 2.5% in the first half of 2022.