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    March Retail Sales Stronger Than Anticipated

    Pent-up demand, an early Easter and warm spring weather all combined to boost sales.

    WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Surging past expectations, retail sales continued to show signs of improvement last month. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), March retail industry sales (excluding automobiles, gas stations, and restaurants) increased 0.9 percent over February when seasonally adjusted, and 5.7 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

    Meanwhile, March retail sales released yesterday by the U.S. Commerce Department showed total retail sales (including non-general merchandise categories such as autos, gasoline stations and restaurants) increased 1.6 percent over February when seasonally adjusted, and 10.0 percent unadjusted year-over-year.

    "It's evident consumers were feeling much better about the economy and their finances last month," Rosalind Wells, chief economist for NRF, said in a statement. "Pent-up demand combined with an early Easter and warm Spring weather significantly boosted consumers' moods and retail sales."

    Stores that sell apparel, home goods, outdoor equipment and furniture saw the biggest increases. Sporting goods, hobby book and music stores sales also were solid.

    The National Retail Federation has a global membership that includes retailers of all sizes, formats and channels of distribution, as well as chain restaurants and industry partners from the United States and more than 45 countries abroad.

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