WASHINGTON–In another sign that the U.S. economy is gaining pace, retail sales picked up 1.6 percent in March over February, finishing the month at a total of $363.2 billion on a seasonally adjusted basis.
That figure also represented a 7.6 percent increase over March 2009. It also included a 1 percent month-over-month rise in sales at department stores (excluding leased departments), to $16.1 billion; and a 1.5 percent gain in sales at furniture and home furnishings stores, which totaled $8.2 billion.
Examining the results, the National Retail Federation said U.S. retail sales in March were better than expected. “It’s evident consumers were feeling much better about the economy and their finances last month,” said Rosalind Wells, NRF’s chief economist. “Pent-up demand combined with an early Easter and warm spring weather significantly boosted consumers’ moods and retail sales.”