March furniture and home furnishings stores sales increased 3.9% from the same month past year, trailing the 4.7% growth for the broad retail sector, the government reported Monday.
More significantly, when rounded to two decimal points the March retail sales report contained downwards revisions to figures for January and February, Gapen said.
U.S. retail sales rose for the first time in four months in March, boosted by a large increase in automobile purchases, but in real terms were weaker than expected by some economists. Total retail sales in the first quarter of 2018 were up as well, by 4.1 percent compared with the same quarter in 2017.
The increase followed a 0.1 percent drop in February, which was the third of three consecutive months of decline. "People were so built up on the economy and tax cuts, but our view is that it's more steady than acceleration". Sales also dropped at gasoline stations, but rose modest on a year-on-year basis by 10 percent.
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Consumer spending, which accounts for more than two-thirds of USA economic activity, grew at a robust 4.0 percent annualised rate in the fourth quarter.
The government will publish its advance estimate for first-quarter GDP growth later this month. But most expect it will rebound in the second quarter and top 3 percent.
Economists forecast overall economic growth slowed to below 2 percent at an annual pace in the first quarter, after a 2.9 percent gain in the fourth quarter.
Grocery and beverage stores were up 5.9% year-over-year and up 0.2% from February.
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Weaker sales categories included building-material stores, which fell 0.6%; apparel stores, down 0.8%; and sporting goods, hobby, book and music stores, off 1.8%, the most since December, the data showed.
Total sales grew at a 0.6% month-on-month pace in March to reach $509.4bn (consensus: 0.2%), according to the Department of Commerce. Bars and restaurants gained 0.4 per cent.
"This is a healthy spending report despite market volatility, unseasonable weather and uncertain economic policies", NRF Chief Economist Jack Kleinhenz said in a statement.
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