Retail Sales Soar 1.1% for March

Auto sales and general merchandise stores help push March's retail sales above expectations.

Apr 14, 2014 at 10:03AM

Retail and food services sales jumped a seasonally adjusted 1.1%, to $434 billion for March, according to a Commerce Department report (link opens as PDF) released today. That's the largest increase in 18 months. 

This latest report also included a sharp upward revision to February's retail sales -- up 0.7% instead of the originally estimated 0.3%. Analysts had expected a rebound for March, and their 1% estimate proved just shy of actual growth. 

Top-line numbers look slightly smaller when accounting for more volatile automobile and gasoline sales. Auto sales increased 3.1% for March, putting retail sales less motor vehicles at 0.7% compared to analysts' 0.5% expectations. When excluding gasoline's 1.3% month-over-month slump, however, retail sales edged back up to a 1% gain for March.



Outside of these two sectors, general merchandise stores -- a category that covers retailers such as Wal-Mart and Target -- led sales percentage growth with a 1.9% increase, while electronics and appliance stores lagged with a 1.6% drop.

Compared to March of last year, retail sales are up 3.8%. Similar to March's report, motor vehicle sales have provided the largest percentage growth over the past year at 9.1%. Gasoline station sales are down 3.3% year over year, while department-stores sales have dropped 3.4%. Nonstore retailers clocked a 7.8% year-over-year gain in March. 

-- Material from The Associated Press was used in this report. link

Justin Loiseau has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not 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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