Retail Sales increased by 0.4% in March to $389.3 billion annualized, lower than the expected 0.5%, following an increase of 1.1% in February after increasing by 0.7% in January. The increase marks the ninth straight month of gains, though this was the weakest reading since June 2010 when sales declined by 0.3%. Over the past year, retail sales volume has expanded by 7.1%. Sales at gasoline stations, which accounted for about 10.7% of overall retail sales last month, increased by 2.6%, after increasing by 2.4% in February. Excluding gasoline, retail sales rose by a mere 0.1% in March after a 0.9% increase in February. The largest percentage increase in retail sales came from furniture and home furnishing store, with sales climbing 3.6%. Building-supply and gardening stores witnessed a 2.2% increase in sales while electronics and appliance stores sales increased 2.1%. Food services and drinking places sales rose 1.0%. Health and personal care stores witnessed a 0.7% increase in sales while clothing and accessories store sales rose 0.6%. General merchandise stores sales grew 0.4%, but department stores recorded a 0.2% decline in sales. Sales at sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores as well as at food and beverage stores increased by 0.1%, with grocery stores recording a 0.3% increase. Miscellaneous store sales decreased 2.1% while non-store retailers witnessed a 0.3% decline in sales. Sales at motor vehicle and parts dealers declined by 1.7%. Retail Sales excluding autos increased by 0.8% in March, matching expectations, after increasing by 1.1% in February and 0.6% in January.
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