Retail sales hit a high note as Casio, Fender volumes turn up

Cons. Discr. - Durables 421 Cons. Discr. - Retailing 379 U.S. 4995

U.S. retail sales surged 30.4% higher year over year in March, Panjiva’s analysis of official data shows. That was only due in part to the timing of the start of the pandemic, with sales compared to 2019 having increased by 21.8%. Payment of stimulus checks by the Biden administration may have been a contributing factor.

At the sector level there’s evidence of a turnaround in sales for the electrical firms who rebounded by 29.4% year over year and by 5.7% compared to 2019 after declining steadily over the past two years after they lost market share to the nonstore / e-commerce retail sector.

The fastest growing subsector outside e-commerce though was sports and leisure with growth of 78.1% year over  year and by 46.6% compared to 2019. That will include spending on summer pursuits as well as indoor activities such as music and homecrafts.

Sports and leisure not taking a breather

Chart segments U.S. retail sales by store type. Calculations based on U.S. Census Bureau data. Source: Panjiva

Retailers have clearly been preparing for a continued expansion in leisure goods demand, with total U.S. seaborne imports in the sector having increased by 168.3% year over year in March, as outlined in Panjiva’s research of April 12. From a sports perspective there’s been significant growth in imports of bicycles, which climbed by 237% year over year. 

Home pursuits have expanded in a more genteel manner though U.S. seaborne imports of musical instruments have increased by 134.5% year over year in March and by 79.6% in Q1’21 overall, Panjiva’s data shows.

It’s worth noting that the usual seasonal lull in shipments normally seen in March / April does not appear to be occurring this year. That may reflect the unloading of previously congested traffic as well as manufacturers seeking to meet unfulfilled demand from earlier in the pandemic.

Need to restock proving instrumental

Chart segments U.S. seaborne imports of musical instruments by month. Source: Panjiva

The fastest growing imports have been in shipments linked to firms that specialize in keyboards and electric guitars, perhaps unsurprising given they can be played with headphones on, while drum specialists have done less well. U.S. seaborne imports linked to Casio and Korg climbed by 134% and 272% year over year respectively and by 41.3% and 135.7% respectively versus Q1’19.

Among the guitar makers Fender’s shipments surged by 87.8% year over year and by 79.2% compared to Q1’19 while diversified producer Yamaha expanded by 17.1% year over year in Q1’21. Drum maker Pearl by contrast saw shipments drop by 19.3% year over year and by 59.6% versus Q1’19.

Drums unpopular during lockdown, keyboards and guitars in favor

Chart segments U.S. seaborne imports of musical instruments by consignee. Source: Panjiva

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