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.”

Related: The Supply Chain Crisis Reignites Reshoring Efforts

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.

About the author

James Zahn

James Zahn

James Zahn, AKA The Rock Father, is Editor-in-Chief of The Toy Book, a Senior Editor at The Toy Insider and The Pop Insider, and Editor of The Toy Report, The Toy Book‘s weekly industry newsletter. As a pop culture and toy industry expert, Zahn has appeared as a panelist and guest at events including Comic-Con International: San Diego (SDCC) Wizard World Chicago, and the ASTRA Marketplace & Academy. Zahn has more than 30 years of experience in the entertainment, retail, and publishing industries, and is frequently called upon to offer expert commentary for publications such as Forbes, Marketwatch, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, USA Today, Reuters, the Washington Post, and more. James has appeared on History Channel’s Modern Marvels, was interviewed by Larry King and Anderson Cooper, and has been seen on Yahoo! Finance, CNN, CNBC, FOX Business, NBC, ABC, CBS, WGN, The CW, and more. Zahn joined the Adventure Media & Events family in 2016, initially serving as a member of the Parent Advisory Board after penning articles for the Netflix Stream Team, Fandango Family, PBS KIDS, Sprout Parents (now Universal Kids), PopSugar, and Chicago Parent. He eventually joined the company full time as a Senior Editor and moved up the ranks to Deputy Editor and Editor-in-Chief.