Retail sales dropped 0.4% to a seasonally adjusted $418.3 billion for March, according to a Commerce Department report (link opens in PDF) released today.
After jumping a revised 1% for February, this latest report failed to signal any significant advances. Analysts had expected steady sales, but were disappointed by the report's sector-sweeping declines. The latest figure is 2.8% above the March 2012 number.
From February to March, gas station sales dropped the most (-2.2%), while miscellaneous store retailers managed a 0.8% increase. Motor vehicle & parts dealers sales fell 0.6%. Of the 13 major business categories measured by the Commerce Department, six posted month-over-month gains.
Comparing sales from 2013's first three months to that period in 2012, nonstore retailers' 14.5% increase takes the cake. Motor vehicle & parts dealers sales are up 7.1% so far this year compared to the first quarter of 2012, followed by a 6.5% increase for sporting goods, hobby, book & music stores. Department stores lag with a 4.9% drop, while electronics & appliance stores have taken a 0.8% hit. Across all businesses, sales in the first three months of 2013 are 3.7% larger than the number from the previous year.