Making their biggest one-month jump since the fall of 2012, U.S. retail sales rose 1.1% in March, spurring more optimism about future economic strength. Core sales, which don’t include building materials, cars, gasoline and food, increased 0.8%, following a revised 0.4% rise in February, the Commerce Department said.
Sales at automobile and parts dealers led gainers, increasing 3.1%, while receipts at building materials and garden equipment stores rose 1.8%. Furniture store sales were up 1% and data also showed improved results at sporting goods shops and restaurants. Sales at electronics and appliance stores, though, decreased 1.6% and sales at gas stations slipped 1.3%.
The consensus among economists was that retail sales – which account for a third of consumer spending – would improve by 0.8% in March. Despite the retail gains, analysts say, Q1 GDP still likely has a 2% expansion ceiling, particularly when factoring in flat inventories.