Part of the March-April gain in building supply center retail sales was the rebound from unseasonably poor winter weather which appeared earlier in other economic data. Another small part of the gain was appliance sales during energy efficient appliance rebate programs administered by states with federal stimulus money. This part of the gain will be reversed later in the spring. Also, a small part of the gain was due to higher lumber and metal prices. Lumber mills are now catching up with higher demand. This has already caused a small drop in spot lumber prices early in May. Hence there will be some pullback in May and June in the dollar value of retail lumber sales.
The March sales gain is inconsistent with the earlier Census Bureau report that construction spending for residential remodeling declined about 3% in March. The retail sales data is more reliable than the estimates of residential remodeling spending. The remodeling market and hence materials demand is likely now on the upswing even though this is not being captured in the initial estimates of construction spending.