U.S. retail sales surge in March

WASHINGTON, April 14 (BestGrowthStock) – Sales at U.S. retailers
rose more strongly than expected in March as consumer stepped
up purchases of vehicles and wide range of goods, government
data showed on Wednesday, suggesting a broadening of the
manufacturing-led economic recovery.

The Commerce Department said total retail sales jumped 1.6
percent, the largest increase since November, from an upwardly
revised 0.5 percent rise in February. Sales in February were
previously reported to have gained 0.3 percent.

Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast retail sales
increasing 1.2 percent last month. Compared to February last
year, sales were 7.6 percent higher.

Motor vehicle and parts purchases surged 6.7 percent last
month, the biggest rise since October, after dropping 1.9
percent in February.

Consumers are defying high unemployment and tight access to
credit to spend, offering hope that the recovery from the worst
economic downturn in 70 years will continue when the lift from
government stimulus and the swing in the inventory cycle ebbs.

Growing confidence in the recovery, particularly
brightening job market prospects, is encouraging households to
tap into the savings to fund purchases of goods, including
luxury items.

Excluding motor vehicles and parts, retail sales rose 0.6
percent in March after rising 1.0 percent the prior month as a
combination of an early Easter holiday and warm weather boosted
receipts at clothing stores. Economists had expected a 0.5
percent gain.

Core retail sales, which exclude autos, gasoline and
building materials, rose 0.5 percent after increasing 1.2
percent February. Core sales correspond most closely with the
consumer spending component of the government’s gross domestic
product report.

Clothing and clothing accessories sales increased 2.3
percent, while building materials and garden equipment climbed
3.1 percent – the largest advance since November 2007.
Receipts at sporting goods, hobby and book stores rose 1.0
percent in March. Sales at electronics and appliance stores,
however, fell 1.3 percent and receipts at gasoline stations
slipped 0.4 percent.

Investment

(Reporting by Lucia Mutikani; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

U.S. retail sales surge in March