The Commerce Department released retail sales figures today for March, which were up 1.1%, the biggest increase in 18 months. Could these numbers mean that the rough times for the retail sector are finally nearing the end?

In this segment from Monday's Investor Beat, host Alison Southwick and Motley Fool analysts Evan Niu and Taylor Muckerman discuss the forces driving retail upward last month. One of the big drivers was automobile sales and auto parts, partly because of the record high average age of cars on the road going into this past winter, and also partly because of the severe winter this year, causing more cars to break down. Taylor looks through the automakers, and some recent recalls they've had to issue, and gives his picks for investors in the sector today.

One retail component that didn't fare well last month was electronics. Evan discusses the seasonality of the space and notes that March is often slow after the Christmas and Valentine's Day catalysts, and he points to some upcoming devices that investors and consumers alike should keep an eye out for.

2 stocks changing the retail world
To learn about two retailers with especially good prospects, take a look at The Motley Fool's special free report: "The Death of Wal-Mart: The Real Cash Kings Changing the Face of Retail." In it, you'll see how these two cash kings are able to consistently outperform and how they're planning to ride the waves of retail's changing tide. You can access it by clicking here.

Alison Southwick and Taylor Muckerman have no position in any stocks mentioned. Evan Niu, CFA, owns shares of and has options on Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Apple, Ford, and General Motors and owns shares of Apple and Ford. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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