U.S. retail sales rose for the first time in four months in March, but the gain wasn’t enough to offset weaker spending during the winter months.
Sales at retailers and restaurants increased 0.9% last month to a seasonally adjusted $441.4 billion, the Commerce Department said Tuesday. That was the biggest monthly gain in a year, but was weaker than economists expected.
Economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal had expected total sales would rise 1.1% in March.
Retail sales fell 0.5% in February, a slight improvement from a previously estimated 0.6% drop.
Higher sales were largely driven by car purchases, which increased 2.7% last month. Excluding autos, sales rose 0.4% in March, after holding steady in February and declining 1.2% in January.