US Retail Sales Rose 0.6% in March

US Retail Sales Rose 0.6% in March

In comparison to a year ago, total retail sales were up by 4.5%.

The Commerce Department said on Monday retail sales increased 0.6 per cent last month after an unrevised 0.1 per cent dip in February.

They were previously reported to have risen 0.1 per cent in February. The March results build on improvement seen in February, which was up 0.2% over January and 4.3% year over year.

And it added that gasoline stations sales rose 9.7% annually, and non-store retailers, which includes e-commerce, saw a 9.7% annual gain.

Retail sales are closely watched by economists because they provide an early read on consumer spending, the principal driver of the US economy.

Clothing and clothing accessory stores were up 6.1 percent year-over-year but down 0.8 percent from February seasonally adjusted. The yield on the 10-year U.S. Treasury rose several basis points. An Easter holiday that fell on the last weekend of the month helped to drive more traffic into stores, though a bout of bad weather last month hurt some retailers such as home centers and clothing stores.

Economists largely blame the weakness in retail sales at the start of the year on delays in processing tax refunds.

Sales at gasoline stations declined 0.3% during March after growing 0.1% in February.

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Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of USA economic activity, grew at a robust 4.0 percent annualized rate in the fourth quarter.

Thus, following Monday's report, Barclays's tracking estimate for first quarter US GDP growth fell from an annualised pace of 1.8% to 1.5%.

Economists forecast overall economic growth slowed to below 2 percent at an annual pace in the first quarter, after a 2.9 percent gain in the fourth quarter.

The improvement in demand went beyond a bump in auto sales, as consumers went shopping at furniture and home stores along with electronics and appliance sellers. Control-group sales rose at a 1 percent annualized rate over the last three months, compared with 7.6 percent in the three months through December.

The decline in sales in February was left at 0.1%.

Building materials and garden supply stores were up 3.8 percent year-over-year but down 0.6 percent from February, seasonally adjusted.

Sporting goods stores were down 0.9 percent year-over-year and down 1.8 percent from February, seasonally adjusted.

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