8 of 13 major retail categories showed month-over-month increases.
Auto sales jumped 2 percent in March, the largest increase since last September, after declining 1.3 percent in February. Additional upward pressure came from: furniture & home furniture stores (0.7 percent vs 0.4 percent); electronics & appliance stores (0.5 percent vs -1 percent); food & beverage stores (0.2 percent, the same pace as in February); health & personal care stores (1.4 percent vs -1.1 percent); general merchandise stores (0.3 percent vs -0.4 percent); nonstore retailers (0.8 percent vs 0.9 percent); and food services & drinking places (0.4 percent, the same pace as in February).
Meanwhile, sales at gardening and building material stores fell 0.6 percent (vs 2 percent in February) and those at gasoline stations declined 0.3 percent (vs 0.1 percent in January). Sales also dropped at: sporting goods, hobby, book & music stores (-1.8 percent vs 3.3 percent); clothing & clothing accessories stores (-0.8 percent vs 0.2 percent); and miscellaneous store retailers (-0.3 percent vs -2.1 percent).
Excluding automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, retail sales rose 0.4 percent last month after being unchanged in February.
Year-on-year, retail trade grew 4.5 percent in March, compared with a 4 percent rise in February.