The Commerce Department reported(.pdf) that U.S. retail sales jumped 1.1 percent in March, the biggest monthly increase since September 2012, as Americans released pent-up demand that resulted from an unusually harsh winter.
Last month’s gain was slightly above elevated estimates, exceeding the level of spending last November before the bad weather set in, and the February data was revised upward, from a gain of 0.3 percent to 0.7 percent, all signs of improving underlying demand.
Auto sales drove the overall increase in spending with a 3.1 percent boost last month, this following an upwardly revised gain of 2.5 percent the month prior. Excluding motor vehicles, sales rose 0.7 percent after a gain of 0.3 percent in February.
Gasoline station sales actually dropped 1.3 percent (though they’ll be going back up next month based on recent price increases) and, excluding both autos and gasoline, retail sales rose 1.0 percent.