US retail sales rose in March for the second month in a row

US retail sales rose in March for the second month in a row

Spending at US retailers rose in March for the second month in a row, underscoring US consumer strength driven by a robust jobs market.

Retail sales rose 0.7% in March from the previous month, a slower pace than the upwardly revised 0.9% increase in February, the Commerce Department reported on Monday. That beat the 0.4% rise economists had projected, according to a FactSet poll. The figure is adjusted for seasonal changes but not inflation.

Retail spending has risen in seven of the past 10 months through March.

Sales rose in several categories in March, including at gas stations, which were up a solid 2.1% from February. Gas prices have continued to rise over the past few weeks. However, excluding sales at gas stations, retail sales rose 0.6% in March.

Online sales jumped 2.7% in March, while specialty stores saw sales rise a solid 2.1% for the month. Spending at restaurants and bars rose 0.4% last month. Meanwhile, sales of electronics, clothing and sporting goods were down 1.2%, 1.6% and 1.8% respectively.

This story is developing and will be updated.

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