A pileup of unsold goods at big-name retailers Target Corp. and Walmart Inc. stirred concerns about an economy at risk from an inventory overhang. But, for now, solid demand is helping soothe some of that anxiety.

U.S. inventories rose an annualized $343 billion in the last two quarters, the biggest back-to-back build in government data back to 1999. Yet stockpiles are less concerning when compared with the total value of sales.

For instance, while the inflation-adjusted retail inventory-sales ratio in March was the highest in a year, it's still well below the average over the last 10 years. And though the ratio for manufacturers has moved up, a closer examination shows that the value of unsold finished durable goods at the lowest level since 2013.

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