Retail Sales Rose in March As Consumers Spent on Cars, Appliances

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Total retail and food services sales increased 4.5% in March from March a year ago to $494.6 billion, and were up 0.6% from revised February sales.

US retail sales rose by more than expected in March in the first gain in four months, suggesting consumer demand regained steam on the back of tax cuts and refunds.

Sales at furniture and home furnishings stores were up 0.7% from February seasonally adjusted and up 4.1% year-over-year.

Non-store retailers like Amazon continued to gain, rising 0.8 per cent for the month, putting them up almost 10 per cent over March of past year. Gasoline station sales are up 9.7% since March 2017.

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

Excluding the jump in auto sales, retail sales edged up by 0.2 percent in March, matching the uptick seen in the previous month as well as economist estimates. It is expected to have slowed to below a 1.5 percent rate of increase in the first quarter. Some also argue that income tax cuts, which came into effect in January, only reflected on most workers' paychecks in late February. Sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores was the only other sector to post a year-over-year sales decline in March - down 3.3%.

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). Sales at restaurants and bars gained 0.4 percent.

"This is a healthy spending report despite market volatility, unseasonable weather and uncertain economic policies", NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said in a statement.

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