Retail Sales Show Signs of Rebound

U.S. retailers charged back after three months of declining sales, with consumers snapping up big-ticket items such as cars, furniture and appliances. The March shopping spree indicates that we may be seeing the beginning of a rise in consumer demand, spurred for now by tax refunds as well as the recent tax cuts.

March sales rose 0.6% (better than the 0.4% expected by economists) and 4.5% year over year, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

What and where were consumers buying?

Eight of 13 major categories, including furniture, health and personal care, and electronics and appliances saw increased sales.

Sporting goods, clothing and accessories, and building-supply shops were among those that saw declines. (Read more about which retailers are in and which are out.)

Sales at non-store retailers climbed 9.7% year over year.

While the numbers are certainly a bright spot, and with consumer sentiment at a 14-year high, retailers are still far from out of the woods.

And though the macro picture remains largely positive, there is concern about the impact of a possible trade war with China.

Department stores were among those that saw their sales fall in March, and department store operator Bon-Ton Stores has become among the latest to announce it will go out of business, after it filed for bankruptcy in February.

Indeed, U.S. retailers are on track to surpass last year’s record 105 million square feet of store closures, Bloomberg Businessweek reported. Among this year’s victims are 63 Sam’s Club locationsToys “R” Us and Sears Holdings, which is shuttering 39 Sears stores and 64 Kmart locations.

While there is reason for optimism after the best month reported in a while, retail industry observers may want to wait for more evidence of a trend before getting too excited about the latest numbers.

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Alex Veksler

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Alex Veksler has 16 years of finance, data analysis and project management experience. He is a former vice president at Morgan Stanley, where he worked on product control of equity and fixed-income derivatives products as well as various projects involving finance and technology, such as revamping risk attribution and balance-sheet systems for profits and losses. Alex has previously worked at hedge funds, most recently as a director at Exigent Capital. He has a bachelor’s in computer science from Yeshiva University and an MBA from New York University.

Ely Razin

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Ely Razin founded CrediFi in 2014 with Battery Ventures. A rare combination of seasoned corporate executive and technology entrepreneur, Ely previously served as global head of board governance for Thomson Reuters Accelus and head of business law for Thomson Reuters, after the software company he founded was acquired in 2004. The company, Expert Ease Software, developed AI-based software that automatically summarizes key deal terms for transactions in fields including capital markets, M&A and real estate. Ely began his career as a corporate and securities lawyer, and holds an LLB and MBA from York University.

Frank Muhlon

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Frank Muhlon oversees CredifX, the commercial real estate financing marketplace that mines the CrediFi database at its core. Prior to joining CrediFi, Frank served as vice president of Northeast region business operations for online CRE property trading platform Ten-X, which has closed over $40 billion in transactions since its inception. He has also held key positions at Orix USA/Houlihan Lokey, Silverstein Properties and Trammell Crow Company. Frank received his master’s degree in real estate finance from New York University and his bachelor’s in finance from Rutgers University.

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Charles Mctiernan comes to CrediFi from Ned Davis Research Group and Roubini Global Economics, where he was the global head of sales. He also spent more than 10 years at Reuters America Holdings, where he held a number of senior sales leadership roles, including head of solutions sales and head of global accounts. Charles, who received his bachelor’s in economics from East Carolina University, has more than 25 years of experience in technology, data and research sales.

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Liat Bar David

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Liat Bar David has over nine years of human resources experience, primarily focused on the high-tech industry. She is a former HR business partner at semiconductor solutions provider Broadcom, where she was responsible for onboarding processes, benefits, policies, training and development, performance management and employee retention. Liat holds a bachelor’s in communication and human services and a master’s in human resources and services, both from the University of Haifa.