US Retail Sales Climb More Than Expected On Rebound In Auto Sales

In this image released by ABC News correspondent George Stephanopoulos left appears with former FBI director James Comey for a taped interview that will air during a primetime

Commerce reported that March was up 0.6% compared to February at $494.6 billion and was up 4.5% compared to March 2017.

The three-month moving average was up 4.8% over the same period a year ago, and the results come as NRF is forecasting that 2018 retail sales will grow between 3.8% and 4.4% over 2017.

Closely watched core retail sales, which exclude automobiles, gasoline, building materials and food services, rose by 0.4 percent in March after coming in unchanged in February.

The report said retail sales climbed by 0.6 percent in March after edging down by 0.1 percent in February.

In March, auto sales jumped 2.0 percent, the largest increase since last September, after declining 1.3 percent in February.

Economists largely blame the weakness in retail sales at the start of the year on delays in processing tax refunds.

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The biggest losers for the month seemed to be weather-related, since much of the United States has experienced a cold early spring.

Even with the bounceback, consumer spending probably expanded at a slower pace in the first quarter.

The higher spending could support GDP growth in the first quarter, which is expected to be sluggish. "People were so built up on the economy and tax cuts, but our view is that it's more steady than acceleration".

"Our latest Quarterly Forecast calls for healthy consumer spending through the remainder of 2018, with growth in the neighborhood of 2.5 percent-3.0 percent annualized", added TD Economics.

Furniture and home furnishings stores were up 4.1 percent year-over-year and up 0.7 percent from February seasonally adjusted. Sales at online retailers increased 0.8 percent.

Meanwhile, sales dropped at building material & garden equipment supplies dealers, clothing and accessories stores and sporting goods hobby, books and music. Bars and restaurants gained 0.4 per cent.

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