Retail sales in March were up slightly from February to March, with annual increases seeing better gains, according to data issued today by the United States Department of Commerce and the National Retail Federation (NRF).
Gas station receipts fell by 0.3 percent in March - the largest drop since July - largely due to cheaper gasoline. February's number was upwardly revised to reflect a 0.1% decrease. That's more than double the overall retail sales gain in the past 12 months of 4.5 percent.
The increase followed a 0.1 percent drop in February, which was the third of three consecutive months of decline.
"This is a healthy spending report despite market volatility, unseasonable weather and to uncertain economic policies", said NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz. "The biggest risk to spending is in market fluctuations that could affect confidence, but we expect these basic improvements in economic fundamentals to continue".
U.S retail sales recovered in March, rising 0.6 percent after falling 0.1 percent in the prior month.
Department stores, a subcategory of general merchandise stores, dipped back into negative territory with a 0.9% sales decrease in March from a year ago and were down 0.6% for the quarter. Sales at online retailers increased 0.8 percent. Also up for the month, each by less than 1 percent, were furniture stores, electronics stores. grocery stores, restaurants and of course non-store (Internet) sales, which were up 0.8 percent.
Building materials and garden supply stores were up 3.8 percent year-over-year but down 0.6 percent from February seasonally adjusted.
Health and personal care stores were up 0.4 percent year-over-year and up 1.4 percent from February seasonally adjusted.
Sporting goods stores were down 0.9% year-over-year and down 1.8% from February seasonally adjusted.