NEW YORK — Despite soft comparable-store sales results for March and rising gas prices, market research firm Retail Forward predicts retail spending will bounce back in April.
The Columbus, Ohio-based company’s Future Spending Index rose for the third consecutive month to 103.9 for April, compared with 102.7 in March and 100.9 in February.
Results from the company’s ShopperScape survey, a poll of 4,000 “primary household shoppers” that took place during the last week of March, indicated that households with an annual income between $22,500 and $75,000 were increasingly optimistic. The Future Spending Index for what the company terms middle-market households rose to 102.8 in April compared with 99.1 in March.
“Because [middle-market consumers] account for about half of all consumer spending, this is a good sign for the retail sector in the month of April,” said Steve Spiwak, an economist with Retail Forward, in a statement.
While respondents said they planned to spend more going forward, those funds were earmarked for things other than apparel. According to the survey, 22 percent of shoppers said they intended to spend more on clothing this year while 25 percent said they anticipated spending less on clothing than the prior year.
“The weakness in planned apparel spending is concentrated among middle- and down-market households,” said the report. The company defines down-market households as having incomes of less than $22,500.
The survey also revealed that soaring gas prices weren’t having the level of impact many analysts and retailers had feared, a fact that was attributed to recovery in the job market. “Compared with last year’s May and August results, a smaller proportion of respondents last month said they are planning errands to minimize distance traveled, going to stores closer to home or changing vacation plans to save on gas,” said the report.