First-Quarter Sales Strong, but…

All signs for the first quarter look good for retailers, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. But “it could be difficult to sustain this growth in the second quarter,” Tracy Mullin, president/CEO of the National Retail Federation (NRF) said in a statement.

Commerce Department figures indicate that first-quarter general merchandise sales increased 9.8% from last year. Part of the reason for the strong business, according to NRF chief economist Rosalind Wells, was the early Easter this year. “Consumers had plenty of reasons to shop last month,” she said in a statement.

Despite the strong figures, however, Mullin warned that “year-over-year comparisons will become more difficult, and the economy is still facing lingering concerns including rising energy costs and instability in Iraq.”

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