The results reinforce a Federal Reserve prediction that the declines were transitory, following increased spending after two hurricanes that struck the United States previous year. The numbers exclude automobiles, gasoline stations and restaurants.
US retail and food services sales in March came in at $494.6 billion, for an increase of 0.6 percent compared with February, the Census Bureau reported on Monday. That's more than double the overall retail sales gain in the past 12 months of 4.5 percent.
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The result put sales up 4.5 per cent over the same month past year, pointing to a trend of steady overall increases. The organization said that the three-month moving average for the first quarter increased 4.8% annually, with total 2018 retail sales estimated to see an annual gain between 3.8%-to-4.4%.
"This month's decline in the Empire State six-month forward index may reflect trade-related uncertainties and the associated volatility of stocks, or other factors", said Roiana Reid, an economist at Berenberg Capital Markets in NY. "The biggest risk to spending is in market fluctuations that could affect confidence, but we expect these basic improvements in economic fundamentals to continue". These so-called core retail sales, which correspond most closely with the consumer spending component of gross domestic product, were previously reported to have risen 0.1 percent in February.
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Clothing and clothing accessory stores were up 6.1 percent year-over-year but down 0.8 percent from February seasonally adjusted.
The other major winning retail category for the month was health and personal care stores, which spiked 1.4 percent compared with February. Receipts at sporting goods and hobby stores dropped 1.8 percent.
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In Sacramento, the average was $3.42 a gallon, a 16-cent spike in one month and nearly 52 cents higher than this time past year . Look for already-high gas prices to spike following Friday's air strikes against Syria by the United States and its allies.