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Retail sales rose a stunning 9.8% in March from February’s pace, the Commerce Department reported today, April 15. In the earlier month retail sales fell 2.7%.

You don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows or a Nobel-prize-winning economists to explain these results. Stimulus checks hit bank accounts and people spent them; more pandemic restrictions on economic activity loosened; and spring weather drove consumers to stores and to activities like dining out.

The March retail sales jump is the second-largest on record, according to the National Association of Federally-Insured Credit Unions, coming in behind last May’s historic leap when the first round of stimulus checks reached American households. Retail sales are up 24% year over year. That gain comes from comparing retail sales during the pandemic recession months of 2020 and the recovery months of 2021.

Restaurant sales rose 13% month over month. percent year-over-year. Bookstores and sporting goods retailers saw their sales climb 23.5%, while clothing sales rose 18.3%. Categories that typically gain in the spring–sales of cars, sporting goods, and garden supplies, for instance–turned in their typical gains with a post-vaccine recovery boost.

The Consumer Discretionary Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLY) closed today up 0.72%. The Consumer Staples Select Sector SPDR ETF (XLP) finished up 0.80%.

In the sector Shake Shack (SHAK) ended the day up 1.55%. The Wendy Company (WEN) gained 1.18%. The Home Depot (HD) added 0.85% and the Lowe’s Companies (LOW) rose 1.51%.