The recession continued to cause consumers to be stingy about parting with their money at retail outlets the Commerce Department reported today.
Retail sales fell 1.1% in March, the second consecutive monthly decline in that data Last month's figures were 9.4% below those of March 2008.
Total retail and food sales in March were $344 billion, down from $348 billion in February.
March's numbers showed a .9% increase in non-automobile sales, but that number represented a 6% drop from March 2008.
There was a 2.3% decline in automobile sales from February and a 23.5% decline from March 2008.
The biggest declines in sales were at electronics/appliance stores (5.9%), miscellaneous stores (2.2%), clothing stores (1.8%), non-store retailers (1.7%), furniture stores (1.7%) and restaurants/bars (1.4%).
The largest increases in sales were at food/beverage, grocery, and health/personal care stores which saw sales rise .5%, .4% and .4%, respectively.