US retail sales soared 1.6% in March

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WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. retail sales surged in March at the fastest pace since late 2017, as spending on autos, gasoline, furniture and clothing jumped.

The Commerce Department said Thursday that sales increased a seasonally adjusted 1.6% from February, the strongest increase since September 2017.

The gains mark a sharp rebound from a lackluster period of sales dating back to December. It’s a sign that the healthy job market has likely made consumers more eager to spend in ways that boost overall economic growth.

Sales at gas stations climbed 3.5% in March, while spending at auto dealers jumped 3.1%. Clothiers reported a 2% gain and furniture stores enjoyed a 1.7% bump.

Out of 13 retail categories, only one — sporting goods, hobby, musical instrument and book stores — reported a sales decline.

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Spending at department stores was unchanged in March. Purchases in the sector that includes online businesses enjoyed a 1.2% increase. Restaurants saw their sales improve 0.8%.

Excluding autos and gas, retail sales increased by a still solid 0.9%. The ramp up suggests that consumers feel confident enough about their finances to maintain their spending, overcoming fears after retail sales in December plunged 1.6%, partially recovered in January and declined again in February.

During the past year, retail spending has grown 3.6%.

The Western Journal has not reviewed this Associated Press story prior to publication. Therefore, it may contain editorial bias or may in some other way not meet our normal editorial standards. It is provided to our readers as a service from The Western Journal.

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