Retail sales decline in March

Retail sales took a dip in March, as shoppers cut back in several key categories.

Sales at stores and restaurants slid 0.3 percent from February to $446.89 billion in March, according to the Commerce Department. Sales have been either down or flat for the first three months of 2016.

Auto sales were the main drag on total spending, but excluding both auto and gas, sales were up just 0.1 percent, which is 0.1 percent lower than the last three months of 2015, according to The Wall Street Journal.

Once again, apparel retailers and department stores were hit hard as consumers cut back on spending at clothing stores, online merchants and restaurants.

Bright spots include increased spending on sporting goods, electronics, appliances, home improvement materials and garden supplies – on trend with typical spring spending patterns.

For more:
- see this Wall Street Journal article (tiered subscription)  
- see this Reuters story