As weather turns warmer, reports from the 12 Federal Reserve Districts are sunny! National economic activity continued to expand in late February and March. Districts were unanimous: Economic growth was in the modest to moderate range and growth would continue on the upswing going forward. Consumer spending increased and reports on tourism were positive. As positive performance continues, construction and real estate activity increased. Slow and steady wins the race!


Consumer spending increased modestly in late February and March, and retailers remain optimistic about growth marching forward. The continuing trend of creative discounts, loyalty perks, in-store events and promotions, favorable credit conditions, and low gas prices “supporting a steady pace of growth in consumer spending.” 


Most districts were in agreement that tourism was a very bright spot and that is super news for hoteliers, restaurateurs, retailers and entertainment! Business and leisure travel remained strong and the winter season was profitable; ski resorts report robust revenue!


Economic activity has grown steadily since the last report, and labor markets have continued to surprise with positive reports! “Businesses across a broad array of sectors, including manufacturing, report some pickup in activity.” Consumer spending has been steady, and tourism activity has increased.


Retail sales were super steady in February and March and same-store sales were comparable to 2015 levels despite the unseasonably mild weather. On-line shopping has continued to compliment bricks and mortar retail sales. Inventories are at desired levels. Our tourism did not disappoint; take a walk up Fifth and Madison Ave. at any and all hours! March survey shows consumer confidence in the Middle Atlantic States (NY, NJ, PA) rose to an eight-month high in February!


The labor market reflects the positive hustle and bustle with labor shortages in certain areas and some acceleration in wages. Two major NYC employment agencies report continued improvement in hiring activity and moderate increases in salaries. 


On Fifth Ave., Ermenegildo Zegna to open a mega store in the Crown Building at 730 Fifth Ave. on 57th St. adjacent to Bulgari.  Madison Ave. is playing musical chairs. Swiss Moynat opened its 937 Madison Ave. next door to Met Breuer. Leather goods retailer Bally is moving from 650 to 687 Madison Ave. directly across from Hermes. Georg Jensen, featuring products that range from jewelry to home products, 698 Madison Ave. De Beers Diamond Jewelers leaving the corner of Fifth Avenue and 55th Street and relocating to 716 Madison Ave.


In SoHo, John Hardy luxury jewelry will open its first U.S. boutique at 118 Prince St., an entire building over three floors. Frame Denim to 51 Greene St. between Grand and Broome Sts. Canada Goose landing at 101 Wooster St. Spanish fashion chain Zara opened its ninth city location, 503 Broadway.


In Noho, Lululemon Lab 50 Bond St. between The Bowery & Lafayette Street has debuted. Italian clothing label Boglioli will have a first U.S. store at 10 Bond St.


Underground shopping comes upscale, retailers realize the commuter shopper is an untapped demographic. TURNSTYLE Under Columbus Circle is the newest sub terrain shopping mecca; enter on any corner of 57th and 58th St. and 8th Ave. Serving daily commuters, residents and tourists. Projections include “22 million people, 24 shops and 10 restaurants.”